Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responded Wednesday to an NBC report that President Trump wanted to increase the US nuclear arsenal tenfold.
President Trump threatened NBC's broadcasting license on Twitter Wednesday for running critical stories about him.
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According to the network, Mr Trump had been shown a slide that showed the steady reduction of USA nukes since the late sixties, in line with post-cold war treaties. "Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve".
The July 20 meeting came a day after another one that left national security officials stunned.
Asked for a response to the president's comments, a White House official speaking only on the condition of anonymity, said that the nuclear arsenal was not a primary topic of the briefing.
The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide USA forces and operations.More news: Google to Provide Puerto Rico With Cell Service Using Balloons
The NBC report stated that some of Trump's key advisers were also in the room during the Pentagon meeting, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
"No, I never discussed increasing it".
He called the report "pure fiction" that was "made up to demean".
The threat provoked widespread anger on social media and elsewhere with many attacking the president for directly challenging the First Amendment, which guarantees the freedom of the press.
The license Trump refers to is that granted by the Federal Communications Commission.
Trump's reported desire for a dramatic expansion of America's nuclear arsenal comes at a time of heightening tensions between the United States and North Korea.