US Military Leaders Would Reject Nuclear First-Strike Orders — Retired General

The Senate is to debate the powers the US President has over a nuclear strike

Tuesday will mark the first time the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has held a hearing on a president's authority to use nuclear weapons since 1976, according to the panel.

Bruce Blair, a former nuclear missile launch officer and a co-founder of Global Zero, an international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, said that even if a four-star commander of nuclear forces believed a presidential launch order to be illegal, he could not stop it because the order goes to him and to launch crews in the field simultaneously. "It's going to be a very robust period of time".

The assessment was part of a pained discussion Tuesday on Capitol Hill about Trump, in the context of his provocative warnings to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

But the process for the military to determine whether an order is illegal is unclear, he added.

"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 strike that is widely out of step with US national security interests", Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said during the hearing. 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.

But even Corker has questioned Trump's 'stability' and 'competence' in the past.

A North Korean official dubbed a tweet by Mr Trump a "declaration of war" after the president said that North Korean officials "won't be around much longer" if they continue with their escalating rhetoric over Pyongyang's nuclear program. "Many Americans fear that the president's words could turn into nuclear reality", Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who sits on the Foreign Relations panel, said in an interview.

Modern nuclear threats, like North Korea, tend to be more volatile but with less destructive capabilities. 'Unfortunately, I cannot make those assurances today'.

The hearing came after months of nuclear-laced tension between President Trump and North Korea - something Democrats made sure to bring up.

'The Untied States military doesn't blindly follow orders, ' Kehler said.

US President Donald Trump in Washington
EPAThe Senate is due to look at the powers the US President has for issuing a nuclear strike

"But it would be too late", he said.

"If there is an illegal order presented to the military, the military is obligated to refuse to follow it", Kehler said in response to Sen.

"To be clear, I would not support changes that would reduce our deterrence of adversaries or reassurance of our allies", Corker, who announced his retirement in September, said.

He could not say what would happen next, noting that he is not a lawyer.

"Fortunately. these are all hypothetical scenarios".

A diplomatic source from that country said they were more comfortable following a briefing on the subject.

'I believe that's true. "There are no checks on the president's authority".

Professor Peter D. Feaver, a former director for defense policy and arms control on the National Security Council during Bill Clinton's presidency concurred. "Now the question is just the one that you've described, is the process leading to that determination and how you arrive at that". "There would be a large group of advisers and legal advisers weighing in on this".

Mr McKeon, the former Department of Defense official, echoed that view.

Mattis was asked whether the president could launch a first strike with nuclear weapons, without consulting Congress, against another nuclear-armed country preparing to attack the U.S.

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