Senate panel debates Trump's nuclear authority

Senate panel debates Trump's nuclear authority

Corker has broken publicly with Trump, warning last month that the president was setting the nation "on the path to World War III" with his statements about North Korea and verbal jousting with Kim.

For the first time in more than 40 years the Senate examined Tuesday the American president's authority to launch a nuclear strike on a foreign enemy. "Unfortunately, I can not make that assurance today".

"It should be the congressional prerogative to declare nuclear war", added Markey, who has written a bill to ban the president from being able to launch a first nuclear strike against North Korea without the authorization of Congress. An American preemptive nuclear attack on Pyongyang would nearly certainly result in the deaths of millions due to a strike and North Korean counterattack against regional allies Japan and South Korea. Bob Corker, said members of the Senate from both parties had raised questions about the role of the executive and legislative branches in authorizing the use of nuclear weapons.

"We are concerned that the president 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", Mr Murphy said in Congress. He threatened Kim in August with "fire and fury like the world has never seen", a likely reference to nuclear war.

Dr. Peter Feaver, a professor of public policy and political science at Duke University, also highlighted the point that any nuclear launch would be preceded by a review and consultation process.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from CT, said Tuesday that he believes President Trump is so unstable he may launch an ill-advised nuclear strike.

"Once that order is given and verified, there is no way to revoke it", the Tennessee senator said.

On Tuesday, former officials cautioned that adding Congress to the equation would hamper the USA response in a high-stress scenario without a lot of time.

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"I would have said: I'm not ready to proceed", Kehler said.

Adding the extra layer would lead to "conflicting signals" that "can result in loss of confidence, confusion or paralysis in the operating forces at a critical moment", Kehler said.

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. Gerald Ford was president.

The quick-reaction system was designed during the Cold War to put the nuclear forces on hair-trigger alert, given that a Soviet Union attack could obliterate the nation's defenses - and leadership - in 30 minutes or less.

As former Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden put it, the current system "is designed for speed and decisiveness, it's not created to debate the decision".

Much of the nuclear chain of command is already "devoted to safety and security measures created to minimize these risks" Feaver said. The deterrent strength of a nuclear arsenal is not only in its ability to strike anywhere, but in the ability of the Commander-in-Chief to expeditiously make that decision. In this scenario, Mattis, national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are not part of the chain of command. Much of the Senate committee hearing was taken up by discussion of what constituted an imminent threat and who could make that determination. Asked whether he was comfortable with the system in its current form, he curtly answered "Yes, I am".

"I don't have confidence that a military chain of command would reject an order by the president to launch nuclear weapons in a preventative nuclear war situation", Markey told the Guardian after Tuesday's hearing.

"One of the things that voters think about" in USA presidential elections, Rubio said, "is whether or not they want to trust him with this capability".

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