Among the revelations from Bob Woodward’s new book on President Trump, it appears the President told the journalist about an extraordinary new nuclear weapon the U.S. now has that has never been built before. While this revelation may have been bravado and presented a bit of a security breach, it may also have been intended to send a message to potential adversaries.
Trump’s message: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
In the book, “Rage,” Trump reportedly says, “I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before,” Trump told Woodward. “We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody — what we have is incredible.”
According to Task & Purpose, it is possible that Trump was referring to the W76-2 low yield, low-cost warhead I have previously written about and was announced by the Pentagon in Feb. 2018. The W76-2 warhead has an explosive yield of roughly five kilotons, a smaller yield than either of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
Defense News reported that the warhead was deployed aboard the Trident missiles on the ballistic missile nuclear submarine USS Tennessee at the end of 2019.
However, that explanation appears unlikely since that warhead has been public for over two years. Woodward later confirmed with several anonymous U.S. officials that the Pentagon had indeed developed “a secret new weapons system” — something they were “surprised” the president had disclosed, according to the Washington Post.
The Post reported that Trump’s disclosure came in “the midst of reflecting upon how close the United States had come in 2017 to war with North Korea.”
When asked about the claims by Trump on Fox News, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien replied:
Well, look, I’m not going to get into what he’s talking about. But you can rest assured that the men and women who manufacture our weapons and who have always had us on the cutting edge…We’re always on the cutting edge. And we have always got something out there that our adversaries don’t know about.
Rest assured that whatever President Trump was alluding to, it is likely very real – as Woodward’s sources confirmed – and simply part of the President’s continuing commitment to rebuild America’s nuclear forces to maintain superiority over Russia and China. Both these countries have been on massive nuclear building and modernization drives.
Trump has taken these threats to heart and is responding vigorously, spending much more on upgrading U.S. nuclear forces.
As Axios noted, Trump’s 2021 budget calls for $28.9 billion for the Pentagon to modernize its potent, but aging, nuclear delivery systems and $19.8 billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration — a 20% increase over the 2020 budget — for “modernizing the nuclear weapons stockpile.”
In these increased Pentagon budgets, expect at least one secret new nuclear weapon.