Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Senators scrutinize Trump's power to launch nuclear strike

Senators scrutinize Trump's power to launch nuclear strike

Just a few days after Trump's inauguration, Markey and Rep. Ted Lieu introduced a bill to prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war from Congress.

"We are concerned, that the president of the United States. might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests", Sen.

Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the foreign relations committee and one of Trump's strongest Republican critics, last month accused the president of setting the USA "on the path to World War III". By the time Corker emerged from the hearing - the first to address the president's nuclear authority in over four decades - he was at a loss for what to do next.

Jitters over President Trump's proposals to beef up America's atomic arsenal and his repeated Twitter threats about attacking North Korea have spread to Congress, where some lawmakers Tuesday discussed curbing presidential power to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons.

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". "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".

"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 weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests", Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy said.

Protesters at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"I don't think that the assurances that I've received today will be satisfying to the American people", Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey said.

"Then what happens?" asked Sen.

"I don't know", Kehler admitted, to nervous chuckles in the chamber. "Fortunately, these are all hypothetical scenarios". "The human factor kicks in".

"It would be a very interesting constitutional situation, I believe".

Retired Gen. Robert Kehler, who previously headed the U.S.'s command that would be in charge of the nuclear arsenal during a war, said while the us military is obligated to follow legal orders, it is not duty bound to adhere to illegal ones.

"The military does not blindly follow orders", Kehler said. "They'd be asking questions that would slow down that process". "I would concede to you that would be a very hard process and a very hard conversation".

Other former national security officials testified that if there isn't an imminent attack, it would be more hard for the president to launch a nuclear attack out of the blue.

Marco Rubio, who ran against Trump in the Republican presidential primary previous year, was among lawmakers who were quick to point out that the hearing should not be taken as a reduced US nuclear posture. "That's a very thin reed on which to have the fate of the planet being dependent".

They also raised concerns that the president's use of Twitter, which often tips into personal insults, could escalate a nuclear conflict.

The issue is particularly concerning to Congress because of heightened tensions with North Korea and the war of words between the nations' leaders.

On the issue of the President being able to start a nuclear war, he was very direct; "Even in the absence of a nuclear attack against our country, no one can tell the president 'no.' Not Secretaries Mattis, or Tillerson".

The comments struck at the heart of the reason the hearing took place.

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". "That doesn't mean, over the course of the next several months, one might not develop, but I don't see it today".

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