Arabic AR Chinese (Simplified) ZH-CN English EN French FR German DE Japanese JA Portuguese PT Russian RU Spanish ES Ukrainian UK

Senate committee questions Trump nuclear authority

Latest news

    The Minot Air Force Base houses part of the US arsenal of Minuteman Intercontinential Ballistic Missiles.Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption The Minot Air Force Base houses part of the US arsenal of Minuteman Intercontinential Ballistic Missiles

    For the first time in over 40 years, Congress is examining a US president’s authority to launch a nuclear attack.

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing is titled Authority to Order the Use of Nuclear Weapons.

    The chairman of the panel accused President Trump last month of setting the US “on a path to World War III”.

    In August, Mr Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea if it continued to expand its atomic weapons programme.

    Trump and the nuclear codes

    Bob Corker says Trump ‘utterly untruthful president’

    The last time Congress debated this issue was over a four-day hearing in March 1976.

    A nervous laugh

    Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, explained the reason for Tuesday’s public hearing.

    “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 US national-security interests.”

    Senators also wanted to know what would happen if the president ordered a nuclear strike.

    Robert Kehler, an ex-commander of US Strategic Command, said that in his former role he would have followed the president’s order to carry out the strike – if it were legal.

    Mr Kehler said if he were uncertain about its legality, he would consult with his own advisers.

    Under certain circumstances, he explained: “I would have said, ‘I’m not ready to proceed.'”

    One senator, Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, asked: “Then what happens?”

    Mr Kehler admitted: “I don’t know.”

    People in the room laughed.

    But the BBC’s Tara McKelvey, who attended the hearing, said it was a nervous laugh.

    What else can we expect from the hearing?

    No Trump administration officials are testifying before the hearing, which is examining the nuclear command and control structure that has served all US presidents.

    But discussion about the highly classified process of actually launching an attack is unlikely in such a public forum.

    The hearing is being closely watched, not only due to the grave nature of the topic, but also because of Mr Trump’s vocal critics on the panel – some of whom come from the Republican president’s own party.

    Bob Corker, the Tennessee senator who chairs the committee, last month engaged in a Twitter spat with Mr Trump, likening the White House to “an adult day care center”.

    Another senator on the panel has drafted legislation proposing to curb the president’s power to launch a nuclear attack.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionLashing out: What Bob Corker really thinks of President Trump

    The bill by Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, would require Mr Trump to obtain a declaration of war from Congress before launching a nuclear first-strike.

    Despite rallying 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, the measure has no Republican support and has gained little traction.

    Can Trump launch a nuclear attack?

    As commander-in-chief, the president has the sole authority to order a nuclear attack, which can be delivered either by submarine, airplane, or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – which make up the so-called “nuclear triad”.

    Under current rules, the US president could launch a strike by entering the codes into a device called “the football”, which travels everywhere with the president.

    Mr Trump is not required to consult anyone or gain consensus from any other members of government.

    His top advisers, such as Defence Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, or national security adviser Lt Gen HR McMaster, play no role in the chain of command.

    Congressional approval is required for the use of conventional military force.

    But nuclear powers have remained under the president’s authority since the dawn of the nuclear age.

    View the original article:

    This is because an enemy ballistic missile launched from the other side of the world could hit the US in barely 30 minutes.

    In the same category are

    Army bids farewell to Lynx helicopter with flypast tour Image copyright MOD Image caption The Lynx has been in service with the Army Air Corps since 1978 The Army is set to bid farewell to the Lynx heli...
    UKIP AM Michelle Brown to face committee over racial slur Image caption Michelle Brown has already accepted that her language was inappropriate A UKIP AM will be questioned on Tuesday by the assembly's st...
    Newspaper headlines: ‘Carillion’s gazillions’ and Iceland’s plastic ban Image caption A number of the papers lead on the collapse of government contractor Carillion. The Times says taxpayers are now facing a "huge bill"...
    Australian father’s instinct helps find trapped son Image copyright NSW Ambulance Image caption The man had been trapped for 30 hours by the time he was rescued An Australian teenager has been found...
    £350m Brexit claim was ‘too low’, says Boris Johnson Image copyright Getty Images The controversial claim that the UK sends £350m a week to the EU was a "gross underestimate", Foreign Secretary Boris J...
    Wallaby gives police slip on Sydney Bridge The unusual sight of a wallaby bounding across the Sydney Harbour Bridge has surprised early-morning motorists.Police said the 13kg (29lb) swamp walla...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *