Trump on nuclear weapons tweet: 'Let it be an arms race'

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WASHINGTON, Dec 23 (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, asked to clarify his comments about expanding U.S. nuclear weapons capability, said, "Let it be an arms race," and that the United States would win it, MSNBC reported on Friday.

Trump had alarmed non-proliferation experts on Thursday with a Twitter post that said the United States "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski spoke with Trump on the phone and asked him to expand on his tweet. She said he responded: "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

Shares of uranium producers and a nuclear fuel technology company have jumped on Trump's comments with Uranium Resources Inc, Uranium Energy Corp, Cameco Corp and Lightbridge Corp all trading higher on Friday.

RELATED: Trump's official picks for cabinet and administration positions

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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions
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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions

Counselor to the President: Kellyanne Conway

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Veterans Affairs Secretary: David Shulkin

(Photo credit DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Energy secretary: Rick Perry

(Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

 REUTERS/Daniel Kramer

Secretary of Defense: Retired Marine General James Mattis

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Chief of staff: Reince Priebus

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chief strategist: Steve Bannon

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Director of the CIA: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy national security adviser: K.T. McFarland

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/Getty Images)

White House counsel: Donald McGahn

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

(Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homeland security secretary: General John Kelly

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Housing and urban development secretary: Ben Carson

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Health and human services secretary: Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Secretary of agriculture: Sonny Perdue

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
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It was not clear what prompted Thursday's tweet by Trump, a Republican who takes office on Jan. 20, but it came the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country needed to boost its nuclear forces.

In his year-end news conference in Moscow on Friday, Putin said Trump's comment on Wednesday was not out of line and that he did not consider the United States to be a potential aggressor.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said in several television interviews on Friday that there would not be an arms race because the president-elect would ensure that other countries trying to step up their nuclear capabilities, such as Russia and China, would decide not to do so.

"He's going to ensure that other countries get the message that he's not going to sit back and allow that," Spicer, who was named this week as White House spokesman for the president-elect, told NBC. "And what's going to happen is they will come to their senses, and we will all be just fine."

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