Six in 10 Americans don’t trust President Donald Trump with the nuclear codes and more than half "are concerned he might launch a nuclear attack without justification" according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. The poll found that just 38 percent of Americans trust Trump to use his nuclear authority responsibly. In fact, 88 percent say he might launch a nuclear assault without justification and 55 percent of those surveyed say they are “very” concerned about it. That's 52 and 33 percent of all adults, respectively.
The poll found that 90 percent of Democrats don't trust Trump with his nuclear authority. The results are even more damning from there: 85 percent of liberals, 75 percent of nonwhites, 73 percent of those with post-graduate degrees, 71 percent of college-educated white women and 70 percent of young adults do not trust him with the responsibility at all. Women are also far less likely to trust the president than men––68 percent to 52 percent––and there's a distinct partisan divide between rural areas and more urban ones as well (67 percent to 51 percent respectively).
The results are remarkably different amongst Republicans. 77 percent of Republicans say they trust the president with his nuclear authority, a number which includes two-thirds of evangelical whites Protestants and 64 percent of white men who lack college degrees, a key faction of Trump's base. 75 percent of "strong conservatives" say they trust Trump, but that number is much lower––58 percent to be precise––among people who identify as only "somewhat conservative."
Nuclear tensions are high, particularly after critics excoriated the president for a reckless––and now infamous––tweet threatening war with North Korea.
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,'" the president tweeted on New Year's Day. "Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
Many charged that the president had written the tweet to deflect attention from the ongoing probe into Russian interference. The tweet was posted to Trump's account shortly after The New York Times revealed Fusion GPS, the company that funded the infamous Russia dossier, wanted to make its Senate testimony public.
In October 2017, Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador, issued a dire warning while speaking at a U.N. General Assembly committee on disarmament.
“The situation on the Korean peninsula where the attention of the whole world is focused has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment,” Kim said at the time, shortly after the United States began joint naval mine warfare drills with South Korea and prepared for a Maritime Counter Special Operations exercise.
Kim accused the U.S. of escalating tensions due to its failure to adopt the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (NBT) which was approved in July by 122 countries at the United Nations. “As long as the U.S. who constantly threatens and blackmails the DPRK with nuclear weapons rejects the NBT the DPRK is not in [a] position to accede to the treaty,” Kim said.
Kim also referred to his country’s nuclear and missile arsenal as “a precious strategic asset that cannot be reversed or bartered for anything.” He was firm: “Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the U.S. is thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table under any circumstances.”
U.S. State Department officials doubled down on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s commitment to diplomacy “until the first bomb drops."
“Our focus is on diplomacy to solve this problem that is presented by the DPRK,” Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said today, according to Reuters. “We must, however, with our allies, Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst should diplomacy fail.”