Can Trump single-handedly order a nuclear attack on North Korea?

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 12:19:51 PM. He has broad authority, but only if a direct attack on the United States is imminent or underway
Could the United States launch a nuclear attack on North Korea, even before it is attacked? And could President Donald Trump order such an attack on his own? These once improbable questions have been vigorously discussed in the capital since Trump this summer raised the prospect of raining “fire and fury” on North Korea in response to the isolated country’s military threats, and then weeks later claimed that North Korea faced “total destruction” if the United States felt it had to defend itself against an attack. His defense secretary, James Mattis, affirmed in testimony before the Sen. Foreign Relations Committee on Oct. 30 that a first strike on North Korea using U.S. nuclear arms is possible “if we saw they were preparing” an imminent, direct attack on the United States. Mattis quickly added, however, that nonnuclear weapons were available for use if needed, and said a nuclear strike was not being discussed by senior officials “in any kind of actionable way.” But the prospect of nuclear combat on the orders of a president whom the committee’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has dismissed as an “adult day care” resident, has stirred controversy and helped galvanize proposals by a few lawmakers to lengthen the “chain of command” that would lead to a nuclear weapons launch — either against North Korea or another nation. Under a bill introduced by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Congress would be inserted explicitly into that chain, given a chance to...Read more
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