Donald Trump has reportedly urged US Homeland Security and national security officials to explore the idea of using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes hitting the US.
“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” Mr Trump apparently said at a White House briefing on hurricanes.
“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?” a source told Axios, paraphrasing Mr Trump’s words.
The official delivering the briefing was said to be “astonished.”
“After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f—? What do we do with this?’” Axios’s source said.
However, the response at the time was rather more muted. The source told Axios the briefer said merely something to the effect of “Sir, we’ll look into that.”
Mr Trump is said to have raised the idea again, in a conversation with a senior administration official.
A 2017 National Security Council memo outlines that conversation, in which Mr Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to stop them from hitting the US. According to Axios, a source briefed on the memo said it does not contain the word “nuclear”, although the President did talk about bombing hurricanes.
Another senior administration official told Axios: “His goal – to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland – is not bad. His objective is not bad.”
The idea of using nuclear weapons to disrupt hurricanes has been floated before.
A US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fact sheet about tropic cyclones points out the idea would be unlikely to work. It fact, it would probably cause more harm than good.
“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 sheet reads.
“Needless to say, this is not a good idea.”
The White House has refused to comment on the reports, tell media outlets “we don’t comment on private discussions that the President may or may not have had with his national security team”.