The United States can launch a nuclear attack against North Korea, even before being attacked, and President Donald Trump could order such an attack under his own authority without consulting Congress.
These once unlikely actions have been hotly debated in the capital since Trump this summer raised the possibility of raining "fire and fury" on North Korea in response to the country's isolated military threats, and weeks later claimed that the nation Hermit faced "total destruction" if the United States felt that it had to defend itself against an attack.
A recent missile launch that shows that North Korea could shed nuclear weapons that can strike anywhere within the United States adds urgency to the question of whether Congress should have more power over any decision to launch a nuclear attack & # 39; The first blow "instead of leaving that to any president, let's leave that one as ignorant, emotional and unstable as Trump."
Secretary of Defense James Mattis told the Sen. Foreign Relations Committee on October 30 that a first attack to North Korea using US nuclear weapons it is possible "if we saw that they were preparing" an imminent and direct attack on the United States.
Mattis quickly added, however, that non-nuclear weapons were available for use if necessary , and said that a nuclear attack was not being discussed by senior officials "in no way actionable."
But the prospect of a nuclear bout by order of a president whom the chairman of the committee, Senator Bob Corker, Republican for Tennessee, has been fired as a resident of "adult day care", has caused controversy and helped galvanize the proposals of a few legislators to extend the "c command "that would lead to a nuclear program launching weapons, either against North Korea or against another nation.
According to a bill introduced by Senator Ed Markey, D-Mbad., And Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Congress is explicitly inserted into that chain, given an opportunity to say yes or no to any firs t use of nuclear weapons.
The political perspectives of the measure are weak, but readers who wish to encourage such legislation can sign an online petition.
Congress has already made slight progress in this area, and a report by the Congressional Research Service concluded that "there is no clear answer on whether legislation that limits the power of the president to use those nuclear weapons that are already in the military arsenal violate the principles of separation of powers.
The problem of "who decides" central scenario in an audience convened by Corker to explore "the realities of this system" by which the president can individually order a nuclear detonation, a chain of command last examined by that committee 41 years ago
At the Halloween hearing, three experts, none of whom are currently in the government, testified that Trump's ability to solve the problem on its own is limited, but they also said that the additional limits may not be reasonable.
A president, they said, has no authority to launch nuclear weapons without the approval of Congress unless the United States is already being attacked or is safe. "Undoubtedly, the president has the constitutional authority to defend the country against a sudden attack, or to prevent an imminent attack," said Brian McKeon, interim undersecretary of policy advocacy during the Obama administration. "But Article II does not give you carte blanche to take the country to war."
If the United States is not attacked, the Constitution grants Congress a role as the branch of government with authority to declare war, McKeon said. The other witnesses of the hearing, retired General Robert Kehler, who commanded the US Strategic Command. UU From 2011 to 2013, and Peter Feaver, who served on the staff of the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, said they shared McKeon's view that the absence of an act of foreign aggression, triggering a nuclear attack would require congressional approval.