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Democrats fear Trump's 'instability' could trigger nuclear war no-one wants

Democrats fear Trump's 'instability' could trigger nuclear war no-one wants

The closely watched debate, organized and chaired by a prominent Republican Trump critic, addressed a hypothetical presidential decision to launch a nuclear first strike against an adversary.

"This continues a series of hearings to examine these issues and will be the first time since 1976 that this committee or our House counterparts have looked specifically at the authority and process for using USA nuclear weapons", Corker, who is from Tennessee, said in his statement. "A presidential order to employ US nuclear weapons must be legal".

The escalating war of words has alarmed U.S. lawmakers. That position followed Trump's threat of "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if Pyongyang continues its nuclear missile program.

"We are concerned that the President of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, and has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with USA security interests", he said.

One issue under debate was the concept of imminent threat, when the president believes a country poses a sufficient immediate danger for the United States to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

Peter Feaver, a former director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, said in such a scenario there would be a lot of other people having an input.

"It has implications for the deterrent, it has implications for the extended deterrent, .it has implications for our own military men and women", said retired Gen. Robert Kehler, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command from 2011 to 2013.

They also raised concerns that the president's use of Twitter, which often tips into personal insults, could escalate a nuclear conflict.

Other former national security officials testified that if there isn't an imminent attack, it would be more hard for the president to launch a nuclear attack out of the blue.

Markey, the top Democrat on the panel's East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy subcommittee, contended that such limits on the president's authority are needed, particularly given the recent rising tensions between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Chris Murphy, Ed Markey, and Jeanne Shaheen had no problem either directly referring to him, or naming him outright.

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"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.

Three Democratic senators were very upfront about their thoughts.

Amid growing anxiety that President Donald Trump's heated rhetoric could trigger a war with North Korea, lawmakers on Tuesday debated for the first time in 40 years a United States president's authority to launch a nuclear strike.

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

Last month, committee chairman Bob Corker said Trump is putting the U.S. Corker has since been working with Sens. It does not have bipartisan support, however, and is unlikely to pass.

Only the president can give the order to pull the nuclear trigger.

"There are legitimate disputes when it comes to the power of the president and the power of Congress", Sen.

While the majority of the senators at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee avoided directly mentioning President Donald Trump by name, instead choosing to talk about a president's authority in general, Sens.

"Doesn't it also suggest it's important for the commander in chief to also be cautious in how he talks about this issue so there is not a miscalculation on the part of our aggressors who would do us harm about what the real intent here is?" Sen.

"I would be very anxious about a miscalculation based on continuing use of his Twitter account with regard to North Korea", Mr McKeon said.