Trump slams suggestion that he would "nuke" hurricanes as "fake news"

By Emily Tillett

/ CBS News

While dealing with an economic storm of his own while overseas at the G-7 summit, President Trump is disputing a report that he suggested dropping nuclear weapons into the eye of hurricanes in an attempt to weaken their contact. Axios reported over the weekend that Mr. Trump has suggested multiple timesto senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, citing sources who have heard the president's private remarks.

Mr. Trump reportedly pushed the idea during a hurricane briefing at the White House, much to the briefer's shock. Axios reports that the president also raised the idea in a conversation with NSC officials before current national security adviser John Bolton took over.

But after the story broke, the president called it "ridiculous." "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!" Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

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

While somewhat outrageous of an idea, the concept of going nuclear against hurricanes predates the Trump presidency. In a speech delivered at the National Press Club on October 11, 1961, Francis W. Riechelderfer, the head of the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service), said he could "imagine the possibility someday of exploding a nuclear bomb on a hurricane far at sea."

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But according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), dropping a nuclear bomb into a hurricane is not just an extremely dangerous idea, it probably wouldn't even be effective, since the amount of energy produced by a hurricane far exceeds what a supposedly neutralizing nuclear bomb would produce.

"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. Needless to say, this is not a good idea," NOAA writes in FAQ page on its website.

First published on August 26, 2019 / 9:16 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Emily Tillett

Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital

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