“Majorities say they are not too confident or not at all confident in him on each of these issues (58 percent on nuclear weapons, 59 percent on immigration), including more than four-in-10 who say they are not at all confident in him on these issues,” a report accompanying the survey results read.
After initially boosting U.S. military presence to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April, Trump has adopted an increasingly hardline stance against the ninth nuclear weapons power. Evading Trump’s red line on a sixth North Korean nuclear weapons test, Kim instead opted to test his country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in July, and a second one later that month. Arguably even more significant than another nuclear test, the successful ICBM launch put the U.S. within range of North Korea for the first time ever.
In response, Trump threatened “fire and fury” against North Korea and has made deeply disputed claims about the U.S. military’s capabilities. He said he had improved the country’s nuclear arsenal since taking office in January and later that U.S. missiles were “locked and loaded” in preparation to attack North Korea.
Earlier this month, nuclear experts shared pictures of themselves chugging wine in concern over the president’s heated words and the consequences they might have. Trump has previously called for an increase in nuclear arms, reversing a decades-long trend of reducing weapons of mass destruction among the world’s leading powers.
Faith in Trump’s ability to handle decisions in regard to nuclear weapons was divided by ideology. Some 77 percent of Republicans expressed trust in the president, compared to only 11 percent of Democrats. Republicans were less confident in Trump’s nuclear weapons policy than they were in his ability to negotiate favorable trade agreements with other countries (86 percent), make good appointments to the federal courts (83 percent) and make wise decisions about immigration policy (80 percent).
Trump’s willingness to flex his nuclear muscles and recent testing of the B61-12 high-precision nuclear bombs have also got the world’s foremost nuclear weapons power concerned. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S.’s latest, most accurate nuclear bombs could make Trump more likely to use them.
“The advantage of the new modification of the B61-12, according to U.S. military experts themselves lies in the fact that it will be, as they put it, ‘more ethical’ and ‘more usable,’” Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Nonproliferation and Weapons Control Department, told the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.
“From this we can conclude that the clearing of such bombs for service could objectively lead to lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear arms,” he added. “This, we can imagine, is the main negative impact of the ongoing modernization.”