Global Zero Urges U.S. Congress to Curb President’s Power Over Nuclear Weapons
WASHINGTON – Following yesterday’s events at the U.S. Capitol, Derek Johnson, CEO of Global Zero, the international movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“A close aide of Donald Trump was quoted by press reports after yesterday’s violent assault by domestic terrorists at the U.S. Capitol as saying the President was ‘out of his mind.’
“Let that sink in. The President is ‘out of his mind.’
“The nuclear launch codes are literally in Donald Trump’s pocket, and as President he has the full legal authority to order a nuclear strike at any time. Every minute Trump maintains his authority as commander-in-chief is another moment of peril for the United States and the world.
“Ordering a nuclear strike may seem far-fetched, but until yesterday many would have said the same about a U.S. President inciting a mob to attack and terrorize the halls of government. The fact is, nowhere is the President’s power greater or more absolute than his authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. There are no checks or balances, no way for Congress or any government official to intervene, and the presumption of legality for such an order is overwhelming.
“This is the terrible power held by every American President – and millions of lives hang in the balance. Yesterday’s alarming events in Washington should make it clear that existing U.S. nuclear policy exposes us all to an intolerable level of risk.
“Members of Congress and the President’s Cabinet should pursue every available avenue to curtail that risk in the immediate term, and then urgently focus on permanent changes to nuclear policy and posture that would head off such risks in the future.
“Upon taking office, President-Elect Joe Biden must work with Congress to reduce the risks that any future President, himself included, might start a nuclear war. The best way to advance this goal of security and stability is to publicly declare and enact policy that would preclude the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict and put an end to the President’s sole authority to launch such a strike.”
In case you missed it, this video from Global Zero makes the eye-opening case for how easy it is for the president to launch nuclear weapons.