President Donald Trump said the United States needs more nuclear weapons to stay safe from other nations. He said he wants the U.S. nuclear arsenal to remain at the "top of the pack," because it has fallen behind, Reuters reported exclusively Thursday. 

"I am the first one that would like to see everybody — nobody — have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country. ... we’re going to be at the top of the pack," he told Reuters. Trump expressed his concern that the U.S had "fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity."

Trump also said China could stop North Korea from threatening the world with nuclear weapons "very easily if they want to." His remarks came after he tweeted in December that the U.S should strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity "until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

When asked Thursday about the Reuters interview during a press briefing, White House spokesman Sean Spicer clarified: "The question that was asked was about other people growing their stockpiles. And I think what he has been clear on is that our goal is to make sure that we maintain America’s dominance around the world, and that if other countries cloud it, we don't sit back and allow them to grow theirs." 

The U.S already has 6,800 warheads and Russia possesses 7,000 warheads, according to the latest data from Federation of American Scientists, a nonprofit aimed at making the world more secure.

"Russia and the United States have far more weapons than is necessary to deter nuclear attack by the other or by another nuclear-armed country," Daryl Kimball, executive director of the independent Arms Control Association non-profit group, told Reuters.

Within the U.S., Trump has the sole authority to start a nuclear war, according to Mark Fitzpatrick, a nuclear non-proliferation expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. "There are no checks and balances on the president's authority to launch a nuclear strike," he told BBC News in January.

nuclear2017 The graph shows estimated global nuclear warhead inventories around the world. Photo: Federation of American Scientists