President Trump on Monday called out a “ridiculous” Axios report that claimed he suggested dropping nuclear weapons into the eye of hurricanes to stop them from reaching the United States, calling it “FAKE NEWS.”
“The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous,” he tweeted. “I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!”
The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous. I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2019
Axios reported on Sunday that Trump suggested the idea “multiple times” to Homeland Security officials, but all the sources in the report were unnamed.
Behind the scenes: During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, "I got it. I got it. Why don't we nuke them?" according to one source who was there. "They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they're moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can't we do that?" the source added, paraphrasing the president's remarks.
- Asked how the briefer reacted, the source recalled he said something to the effect of, "Sir, we'll look into that."
- Trump replied by asking incredulously how many hurricanes the U.S. could handle and reiterating his suggestion that the government intervene before they make landfall.
- The briefer "was knocked back on his heels," the source in the room added. "You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, 'What the f---? What do we do with this?'"
Trump also raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official. A 2017 NSC memo describes that second conversation, in which Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to stop them from hitting the homeland. A source briefed on the NSC memo said it does not contain the word "nuclear"; it just says the president talked about bombing hurricanes. (Axios)
Axios noted that the idea to use a bomb to disrupt a hurricane is not new and goes back to a suggestion made by a government scientist in the Eisenhower era.
"Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states in a fact sheet. “Needless to say, this is not a good idea."