Watch CBS News

President's Temperament Doesn't Matter, World War III Could Start By Mistake, Author Says

DETROIT (WWJ) -- The world is still trying to figure out exactly what President-elect Donald Trump meant when he vaguely tweeted about expanding the United States' nuclear capabilities last week.

Trump's camp tried to assure the public he didn't really mean that he was going to "expand and strengthen" the nuclear arsenal, but Trump told the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe on Friday that there should be an "arms race."

Author Eric Schlosser says that Trump's tweet is very unsettling for leaders -- and citizens -- around the world.

"I think nuclear weapons policy is very serious and the implications are serious," Schlosser told Russ McNamara live on WWJ Newsradio 950. "Maybe the Russian president shouldn't be making these off-the-cuff remarks about his strategic arms buildup and maybe we shouldn't be responding by tweet."

Putin released a statement similar to what Trump said on Friday just hours after.

"We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces," Putin said, "especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems."

Both Russia and the United States have roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons, according to the non-partisan Ploughshares Fund.

Schlosser, a journalist and author, had his latest article "World War Three by Mistake" published in The New Yorker. He says the president would have all of six minutes to react to news that a missile attack on the country was imminent.

"Regardless of the temperament of whoever is Commander In Chief, the system -- the nuclear weapons system -- is such that you could have a nuclear war by mistake regardless of how wise or emotionally stable the president is," Schlosser said.

"Even the wisest, calmest, most stable person might not be able to make the correct decision," Schlosser said. "Having only six minutes, you've got to be able to trust your sensors and in the age of cyber warfare, someone could get into our system and spoof it. I wish this was all make-believe stuff, but it's things that people at the Pentagon are very worried about and I think the public should know about."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.