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

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Tokyo in October 2016 President Trump in Washington in April

"Once that order is given and verified, there is no way to revoke it", said the committee's chairman, Senator Bob Corker, who described the hearing as the first since 1976 to focus on presidential authority over nuclear weapons.

"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", Democrat Chris Murphy told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said at the hearing Tuesday.

"Let's just recognize the exceptional nature of this moment", Senate Democrat Chris Murphy said during the hearing of the chamber's Foreign Relations Committee.

"This is not specific to anybody", Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said.

If the U.S. wanted to retaliate before its weapons or command and control system were attacked, "the president would have less than 10 minutes to absorb the information, review his options, and make his decision", according to a 2016 Congressional Research Service report by nuclear arms expert Amy Woolf.

"I would have said: I'm not ready to proceed", Kehler said. If the answer is no, the order would have to be considered illegal, he said.

"The United States military does not blindly follow orders", he said. "And that is true with nuclear orders as well, and I think that should be a reassuring piece for the American public, and it ought to be reassuring to our allies and our adversaries as well". Ben Cardin, followed, saying "we are dealing with a president. who has not seemed to be willing to accept advice on many issues affecting power". Tuesday, he said Congress needs to examine "the realities of the system".

And that, said Sen.

Congressional approval is required for the use of conventional military force, but nuclear powers remain firmly under the grip of the president and have since the dawn of the nuclear era. Edward Markey, D-Mass, said.

Jitters over President Trump's proposals to beef up America's atomic arsenal and his repeated Twitter threats about attacking North Korea have spread to Congress, where some lawmakers Tuesday discussed curbing presidential power to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons.

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. "If anyone out there thinks they can somehow get away with something because the politics of the United States would somehow prevent the commander-in-chief from acting expeditiously, that could also encourage miscalculation, particularly on behalf of people who are isolated from the world, don't get a lot of information, and have never had anyone tell them they're wrong or no, and I have one person in particular in North Korea who concerns me in that regard".

For months, Trump has made personal jabs at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, derisively calling him "rocket man" on and off Twitter.

But Democrats on the committee were happy to invoke Mr Trump, and they noted that the President's escalating rhetorical battle with North Korea - a nuclear-armed nation he and his advisers have repeatedly threatened to annihilate - lent urgency to their questions about how, if at all, presidents are limited in their abilities to fire nuclear missiles.

"We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" if the U.S. is forced to defend itself, he said in a speech to the United Nations in September. "Even General Kelly, the president's chief of staff, can't control the president's Twitter tantrums". In a September tweet, he warned about North Korean leaders: "They won't be around much longer!"

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