Trump denies report he wanted to nuke hurricanes

President Trump is seen during a photo session at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, on August 25, 2019. (REUTERS photo)
Updated 26 August 2019

Trump denies report he wanted to nuke hurricanes

  • Trump slammed the story, calling it "fake news," in his latest swipe at the media
  • Twitter lit up with reactions to the Axios story, with many users appearing shocked

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday denied an Axios report that he wanted to drop nuclear bombs on hurricanes before they made landfall in the United States, calling it "ridiculous".
During a briefing, Trump asked if it would be possible to disrupt hurricanes forming off the coast of Africa by dropping a nuclear bomb in the eye of the storm, a report on the Axios website said on Sunday.
According to an anonymous source, the news website said that attendees left the hurricane briefing thinking, "What do we do with this?"
Axios did not say when this conversation took place.
But Trump slammed the story, calling it "fake news," in his latest swipe at the media.
"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!" he tweeted.
The White House declined to comment on the report earlier, but Axios quoted a senior administration official as saying Trump's "objective is not bad."
Axios said the president had previously made a similar suggestion in a 2017 conversation, asking a senior official whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to prevent them making landfall.
Trump did not specify in 2017 that nuclear bombs be used.
The idea of bombing hurricanes is not a new one -- and was originally proposed by a government scientist in the 1950s under President Dwight Eisenhower.
Since then it has continued to pop up, even though scientists agree it would not work. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a page dedicated to the concept.
"During each hurricane season, there always appear suggestions that one should simply use nuclear weapons to try and destroy the storms," the NOAA said.
Not only would a bomb not alter a storm, the winds would quickly spread radioactive fallout over nearby land, NOAA added.
"Needless to say, this is not a good idea," said NOAA.
The US is regularly pummeled by hurricanes. In 2017 one named Harvey became the strongest hurricane to make landfall in 12 years.
Twitter lit up with reactions to the Axios story, with many users appearing shocked.
"Not 'The Onion,'" one user wrote, referring to the satirical news publication known for outlandish headlines.
"What could possibly go wrong?" asked another.
Many tweets also included the hashtag #ThatsHowTheApocalypseStarted.
Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris weighed in as well, tweeting, "Dude's gotta go."


Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

Updated 13 sec ago

Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

  • Invitation extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited US President Donald Trump to Pyongyang in his latest letter to the American head of state,  South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday.

“I heard detailed explanations from US officials that there was such a letter a while ago,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa told a  parliamentary session. “But I’m not in a position to confirm what’s in the letter or when it was delivered.”

The foreign minister’s remarks followed reports by a local newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, which said that Kim’s invitation was extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15.

If true, the invitation was made as diplomats of the two governments were in a tug-of-war over the resumption of working-level talks for the North’s denuclearization efforts.

During a surprise meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30, Trump and Kim pledged that working-level nuclear disarmament talks would resume within a month, but no such talks have been held,  with both sides indulging in a blame game instead.

“We are very curious about the background of the American top  diplomat’s thoughtless remarks and we will watch what calculations he has,” North Korea’s first vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Aug. 30 in a statement carried by the North’s official Central News Agency (KCNA). He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments terming Pyongyang’s rocket launches as “rogue.”

However, the tone has changed significantly with the communist state recently offering to return to dialogue with Washington “at a time and place agreed late in September.”

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said on Aug. 30.

On Monday, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level denuclearization talks will likely take place “in a few weeks” but demanded security guarantees and sanctions’ relief as prerequisites.

“The discussion of denuclearization may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our  development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,” the statement said. 

HIGHLIGHT

It’s not clear whether the US president has responded to the invitation, thought he has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was upbeat about the early resumption of nuclear talks.

“North Korea-US working-level dialogue will resume soon,” he said, citing an “unchanged commitment” to trust and peace by the leaders of both Koreas and the US. 

The working-level meeting will serve as a “force to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon is scheduled to meet Trump on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York next week.

“It will be an opportunity to share opinions and gather wisdom with Trump on the direction of further development of South Korea-US  relations,” he said.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

It’s not clear whether Trump responded to Kim’s invitation to Pyongyang, but the US commander-in-chief has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator, who oversaw the test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rockets more than half a dozen times since late July.

While none of the projectiles are a direct threat to the US continent they still pose threats to US and its allied forces in South Korea and Japan.

“Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think,” Trump told reporters on August 24 before flying off to meet with world leaders at the G7 in France. “And we’re going to see what’s going on. We’re going to see what’s happening. He likes testing missiles.”

Experts say the apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has also boosted chances of fresh negotiations with the North, which had long criticized him for his hawkish approach toward the regime.

“The displacement of a ‘bad guy’ could be construed as a negotiating tactic to seek a breakthrough in the stalemate of nuclear talks. It’s a show of a will to engage the counterpart in a friendlier manner from the perspective of negotiation science,” Park Sang-ki, an adjunct professor at the department of business management at Sejong University in Seoul, told Arab News.