The movement to take concrete, substantive steps towards keeping the president from being able to launch a nuclear weapon is gaining steam.
The Hill is reporting that a petition in support of a bill to keep President Trump from being able to launch nuclear weapons without the consent of Congress garnered almost half a million signatures and has been delivered to Congress itself.
Speaking at a press conference marking the delivery of the petition, Democratic U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Ed Markey said:
‘While it is vital for the president to have clear authority to respond to nuclear attacks on the United States, our forces or our allies, no president should have the authority to launch a nuclear first strike without congressional approval. Such a strike would be immoral, it would be disproportionate and it would expose the United States to the threat of devastating nuclear retaliation.’
There has long been a widespread sentiment that the president’s power to launch nuclear first strikes should be limited. However, there is now an obvious special urgency given to the efforts to keep the president from being able to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike, seeing as there is now a man in the White House who has expressed his willingness to do such a thing.
Trump has expressed that willingness in a number of ways, including speaking flippantly of the possibility in one of the general election debates late last year.
Trump also posted a tweet at one point in the weeks in between his election victory and his inauguration, stating, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Trump unsurprisingly drew an enormous amount of criticism for that statement, since the suggestion that the United States should expand its nuclear arsenal flies in the face of decades of global work towards non-proliferation.
When confronted about the implications of his tweet by an MSNBC host, Trump dismissed concerns, commenting that he didn’t care if he started an arms race.
With these things in mind, Markey was right in declaring the following at the aforementioned Wednesday press conference: “As long as President Trump has a Twitter account, we need a nuclear no-first-use policy for the United States of America.”
As mentioned, there is an already introduced bill in Congress to keep Trump from launching nuclear weapons without direct nuclear provocation without the consent of Congress.
That bill, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 24 and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 24.
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