According to the report, published Sunday by Axios, Trump suggested “multiple times” to national security officials that detonating a nuclear bomb inside an approaching hurricane could “disrupt it.”
The report cited conversations with sources who heard Trump’s comments and were briefed on a National Security Council (NSC) memo.
Trump reportedly posed the question during a hurricane briefing at the White House.
“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” Trump said, according to Axios’ source.
The briefer was “knocked back on his heels,” the source said, and told the president they’d “look into that.”
“People were astonished,” the source said. “After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f—? What do we do with this?'”
In a tweet early Monday, Trump denied he ever made the suggestion.
“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!”
Trump also reportedly raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official in 2017. The comments were captured in an NSC memo that covered “multiple topics.”
“It wasn’t that somebody was so terrified of the bombing idea that they wrote it down,” the source said. “They just captured the president’s comments.”
The source said ultimately Trump’s suggestion went nowhere and never entered a formal policy process.
Another White House official, who had been briefed on the president’s remarks, told Axios that Trump’s “objective is not bad.”
“His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad,” the official said.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), however, says the idea that hurricanes can be stopped by being nuked is a myth.
“Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm,” the NOAA explains, “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 NOAA adds: “Needless to say, this is not a good idea.”