A president who decided to launch a nuclear attack - either in retaliation for a nuclear strike or in anticipation of one - would first hold an emergency conference with the defense secretary, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and other advisers.
Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, did not criticize Trump during the two-hour session, and instead framed the issue as a review of Congress' war-making authority as prescribed in the Constitution.
"We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, as a decision process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests", Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a consistently vocal critic of Trump.
"The President of the United States is going to make this decision and he's going to make it quite quickly, if he has to", he said.
He says the legal principles of military necessity, distinction, and proportionality also apply to decisions about the use of nuclear weapons. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTax Foundation: Senate reform bill would cost 6B GOP senators raise concerns over tax plan Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage MORE (R-Tenn.), has been seen as rebuke of President Trump, given Corker's fierce criticism of the president in recent weeks. "The military is obligated to follow legal orders but is not obligated to follow illegal orders", added Kehler, who led the US Strategic Command under President Barack Obama.
WASHINGTON ― The only people standing between an impulsive and angry President Donald Trump and thermonuclear war would be high-ranking military officers willing to declare a first-strike order "illegal".
Protesters at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing
If the president decided to order a strike, he would identify himself to military officials at the Pentagon with codes unique to him.
However, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) didn't think military resistance would be enough assurance.
The experts testifying at the hearing said that while the protocols for nuclear weapons use give the president unilateral control when the United States is under attack from a nuclear strike, the commander in chief is far more restrained when trying to initiate a pre-emptive strike.
"The answer would be: Yes", Adm. Scott Swift said, responding to a hypothetical question at a security conference at the Australian National University, according to ABC News. "I would concede to you that would be a very difficult process and a very difficult conversation". He calls a discussion on the topic "long overdue".
"It wouldn't be the president alone persuading a single military officer alone on the other side of the telephone", he said. The commander could try to override the order by sending a launch termination order, Blair said.
Blair, the former missile launch officer, said there is no way to reverse the president's order. "And they would be asking the questions that would slow down that process".
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