The top U.S. nuclear commander said Saturday that he would refuse an order from President Donald Trump, to launch nuclear weapons, if he determines it to be “illegal.” Air Force General John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), told a panel at the Halifax international Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada that there is a process that prevents any U.S. president from carrying out an illegal strike.
— Wayne Mark Sager (@wayne_sager) November 19, 2017
Hyten explained how the conversation would go with the president if such a scenario were to occur. If Trump decided to launch a nuclear attack, Hyten would then provide the president with strike options that are legal.
“I think some people think we’re stupid,” Hyten said in response to a question about such a scenario. “We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?“
Hyten, who is responsible for overseeing the US nuclear arsenal, reminded everyone that “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life.” He then explained the process that would follow such a command. “I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do,”
If it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen. I’m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’
And we’ll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.
STRATCOM, which General Hyten commands, controls U.S. nuclear forces in a time of war.
Hyten’s remarks come at a time of unrest and uncertainty, with increasing tensions between between Trump and North Korea’s leader spewing out on Twitter and in the news, leaving many to believe in a heightened threat of attack from Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Between Trump’s lack of temperament and his taunting tweets aimed at Kim Jong-un, critics are concerned that the president’s reckless behavior will incite a nuclear war.
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