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US Senate Holds Hearing on President's Nuclear Authority
14 November 2017, 09:35 | Glen Norman
GettyThe US Senate is debating the nuclear powers of the US President
Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said it's time to review the president's authority to launch a nuclear strike.
The president, as commander in chief, is the sole arbiter or whether to use the US nuclear arsenal - an issue that hasn't been debated at the congressional level in more than 40 years.
Acknowledging that the president has the sole authority to give the order to launch a nuclear strike "whether we are responding to a nuclear attack or not", Corker said he hoped the hearing would allow his committee "to explore the realities of this system". Once given, the order can't be revoked, Mr. Corker said. He will testify alongside General C. Robert Kehler, former commander of the United States Strategic Command, and Brian McKeon, former acting undersecretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Defense.
Trump has countered by calling Corker a "lightweight" who couldn't get re-elected if he ran again in 2018. Ed Markey, D-Mass., would prohibit the president from launching a preemptive nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress. Trump threatened in August to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" in response to reports that the communist regime had developed a warhead that could be mounted on a ballistic missile. "That is frightening", Cardin said.
Ultimately, the panel warned against legislative changes to rein in the President's authority to exercise nuclear authority.
In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the experts grappled with what scenarios encompass "imminent" threats, when the president could order an attack without congressional approval, and what checks exist. Under current rules, a president could launch a nuclear strike by entering codes into a device known as "the football" - a briefcase that always travels with the president - and is not obligated to consult other government officials. The measures, though, have not advanced in the Republican-controlled Congress. "I think that we have to keep trust, keep faith in the system that we have that has proven effective now for decades".
"We are concerned the president of the united states is so unstable, is so volatile ... that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with USA national security interests", said Sen.
Tuesday's hearing reflected the "exceptional nature" of the present context, said Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from CT.
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