Should President Trump Have the Sole Power to Launch Nuclear Missiles?

Should President Trump Have the Sole Power to Launch Nuclear Missiles?

A decades-old presidential authority to use nuclear weapons is suddenly coming into question as U.S. allies and some lawmakers from both parties want the Trump administration to assure them that President Donald Trump can not rashly launch a nuclear strike, according to multiple sources.

The committee is holding a hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the president's ability to authorize nuclear weapons. Kehler, who served as the head of Strategic Command from January 2011 to November 2013, said the legal principles of military necessity, distinction and proportionality also apply to decisions about nuclear weapons use.

He said it was the first time a hearing on the topic had taken place since 1976, which was after it became known that President Nixon was frequently drunk and depressed in the waning days of his administration.

"Once that order is given and verified, there is no way to revoke it", the Tennessee senator said. "And that is true with nuclear orders as well, and I think that should be a reassuring piece for the American public, and it ought to be reassuring to our allies and our adversaries as well". "But I would like to explore, as our predecessors in the House did 41 years ago, the realities of this system".

"We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests", said Sen.

At an October 30 Senate Foreign Relations panel hearing, lawmakers pressed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about policies for using nuclear weapons.

Under certain circumstances, he explained: "I would have said, 'I'm not ready to proceed'".

"Then what happens?" he was asked.

"I don't know", Kehler admitted, to nervous chuckles in the chamber. There is the human factor in our system.

Markey, from MA, started his time by saying that nuclear weapons are "for deterrence not war fighting", and that "absent a nuclear attack upon the United States or our allies, no one human being should have the power to unilaterally unleash the most destructive forces ever devised by human kind". "They'd be asking questions that would slow down that process".

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"The U.S. military doesn't blindly follow orders", Kehler said in his opening remarks. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said.

"I don't think the assurances I've received today will be satisfying to the American people, I think they can still realize that Donald Trump can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account without a check and balance". "That's a very thin reed on which to have the fate of the planet being dependent".

The decision to launch a nuclear attack is made by the president, relayed to the nation's top uniformed military officer, known as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before it sent down the chain of command, according to military documents.

There are two situations in which the president decides to use nuclear force, Feaver said: When the president wakes up the military and when the military wakes up the president.

Congressional approval is required for the use of conventional military force, but nuclear powers remain firmly under the grip of the president and have since the dawn of the nuclear era.

Peter Feaver, a politics professor at Duke University and a specialist on presidential war powers, said: "I would say distinguish between scenarios where the military wake up the president versus scenarios where the presidents wake up the military".

She said that if the president had to act, she wanted the president to act "in a way that acknowledges input from a lot of experts and not to act based on a Twitter post".

"The system is designed entirely for speed, not deliberation", said Stephen Young, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Arms control experts however, expressed doubt that lawyers would always be involved in the decision.

"Certainly in the case of responding to an incoming attack, the lawyers are not involved".

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