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For first time in 40 years, Congress debates USA president's nuclear power

For first time in 40 years, Congress debates USA president's nuclear power

Senators trying to prevent President Donald Trump from launching an unprovoked nuclear attack were stymied Tuesday, after a panel of experts warned them against rewriting laws to restrain a commander in chief many worry is impulsive and unpredictable enough to start a devastating worldwide crisis.

"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.

Republican members on the committee said they anxious that adversaries would see and read about the committee hearing and infer that Trump was losing support in his role as commander in chief, making them more likely to attack the United States or its allies. "That doesn't mean, over the course of the next several months, one might not develop, but I don't see it today".

In August, Mr Trump vowed to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea if it continued to expand its atomic weapons programme.

"We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, 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 national security interests", Sen.

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.

Brian McKeon, former Acting Under Secretary at the Department of Defense, said if the U.S. were to initiate a war with another nuclear state, Congress would have to authorize that action under the U.S. Constitution.

"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.

The decision to launch a nuclear attack is made by the president, relayed to the nation's top uniformed military officer, known as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before it sent down the chain of command, according to military documents.

There are two situations in which the president decides to use nuclear force, Feaver said: When the president wakes up the military and when the military wakes up the president.

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Another committee member, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass, said.

Kehler acknowledged, however, should the military reject a nuclear strike order that would result in a "very hard conversation".

Only three other Democrats have co-sponsored it.

He said the nuclear doctrines were worked out during the Cold War, when the president was given sole authority to order a nuclear strike.

Congress should step carefully when debating legislative controls to the president's ability to use nuclear weapons, the panelists cautioned.

Corker publicly questioned Trump's decision-making abilities last month when he expressed concern over the president's heated rhetoric that, in his view, undermined US diplomatic efforts with foreign adversaries and put the country "on the path to World War III". Corker has since been working with Sens. It does not have bipartisan support, however, and is unlikely to pass.

Much of the nuclear chain of command is already "devoted to safety and security measures created to minimize these risks" Feaver said.

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

He added that Tuesday's hearing will be one in a series the Senate committee plans to hold on the authority to declare war and to launch nuclear weapons.