Trump’s erratic presidency is the latest sign giving one person control of the nukes is ‘dangerous,’ experts say

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Donald Trump is out of the White House and away from the nukes, but the volatility of his presidency has once again raised questions about whether any commander in chief should have sole and unchecked authority over the US nuclear arsenal.

In late January, just a few days after President Joe Biden took office, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Secretary of Defense William Perry wrote that “no president should have unilateral power to use nuclear weapons” in an op-ed published by USA Today.

The article pointed to the deadly Capitol riots Trump was impeached for inciting and noted that for two weeks after that incident, he maintained control of one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.

When Trump, a twice impeached president, departed the White House on the morning of Biden’s inauguration, he was followed by a military aide carrying the “nuclear football.” Though his presidency was basically already over, Trump still had the authority to order a nuclear strike for a few more hours.

“Having the president have sole authority to order a nuclear strike is just outrageous, to have that power in one person’s hands. It does not matter who that one person is,” Jessica Sleight, a program director at Global Zero, an advocacy organization working toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons, told Insider. “It is outdated, it’s unnecessary, and it’s dangerous.”

“People really paid attention to this issue under the former administration just because of how volatile it was, but to me, Trump was really just a highlighter for how broken the process itself is,” she said.

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‘Worst case scenario’

If a president decided to use nuclear weapons, the “nuclear football” would be opened, and the president would be presented with pre-approved strike options. The commander in chief may choose to consult with senior advisors and military leaders before proceeding, but that is not a requirement.

Using the “biscuit,” a coded card that the president carries on his person, he would identify himself to a military official in the National Military Command Center, who would then receive and transmit strike orders once it was clear the orders were coming from the president.

Within just a few minutes, nuclear weapons aboard strategic bombers or carried by land-based or submarine-launched missiles would be in the air. Officials in the chain of command can theoretically object or resign in protest, but it is ultimately the Pentagon’s job to carry out any legal order from the president.

The president’s unchecked power to start a nuclear war dates back to Harry Truman, the only president to ever permit the use of nuclear force against an adversary.

While this concept was informally established during the final weeks of World War II, it was not until the Korean War that Truman’s White House officially asserted that “only the President can authorize the use of the atom bomb.”

Amid Cold War tensions with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union, the need for an immediate nuclear response, one that could be executed in minutes to prevent an enemy from crippling the US nuclear arsenal …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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