Air Force General John Hyten, top commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, said on Saturday that he would resist President Donald Trump if he ordered and “illegal” launch of nuclear weapons. His statement caused debate about Trump’s authority to order the firing of a warhead, Fox News reports.
“If it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I‘m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated,” Hyten said.
Meanwhile, former nuclear missile launch officer and co-founder of the Global Zero group that advocates eliminating nuclear weapons, Bruce Blair, thinks that Strategic Command chief might be bypassed by the president.
“A president can transmit his nuclear attack order directly to a Pentagon war room. From there it would go to the men and women who would turn the launch keys,” Blair said. He thinks that no one could stop Trump from using nuclear weapons.
“If President Trump were to decide that it’s time to put Kim Jong Un in his place once and for all, he would choose a plan that already exists. And it would be almost impossible in my view to override a decision to implement that option,” he said.
According to Brian McKeon, senior policy adviser in the Pentagon during Obama administration, Trump would probably tell defense secretary to order the commander to execute the order.
“And then, if the commander still resisted, you either get a new secretary of defense or get a new commander,” McKeon said.
Last week, for the first time since 1976, the Senate held a hearing on presidential authority to use nuclear weapons. Back in 1976 Democratic congressman Richard L. Ottinger, wanted the U.S. to declare that it would never initiate a nuclear war, but until today the U.S. hasn’t ruled out first-strike nuclear options.