Donald Trump nuclear order could be refused - General John Hyten

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis left shakes hands with Gen. John E. Hyten head of Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue Neb. on Sept. 14

Top nuclear commander: I wouldn't carry out an 'illegal' nuclear strike order from Trump

The current head of Strategic Command, Gen. John Hyten, said Saturday at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada that he would refuse a launch order from a president if he believed that order to be illegal. "And 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 options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. GOP is toast if it follows Trump, Moore: Sen Flake Republican US Senator Jeff Flake, an outspoken critic of Trump, was caught on an open microphone saying the GOP is "toast" if it follows Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

"And then, if the commander still resisted", McKeon said as rubbed his chin, "you either get a new secretary of defence or get a new commander".

President Trump has not publicly commented on General Hyten's remarks. Strategic Command, which controls nuclear weapons in the event of a war, won't let the president just lob nukes willy-nilly at anyone who angers him. "When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?" he said.

Hyten said the US military is always ready to respond to the threat of North Korea.

Bruce Blair, a former nuclear missile launch officer and co-founder of the Global Zero group that advocates eliminating nuclear weapons, said the Kehler scenario misses a more important point: The Strategic Command chief might, in effect, be bypassed by the president.

A president can transmit his nuclear attack order directly to a Pentagon war room, Blair told the AP.

Hyten's comments come against the backdrop of Mr. Trump's bombastic comments about North Korea and how he might respond to that regime's nuclear threat.

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In the event that Trump made a decision to launch a nuclear attack, Hyten would provide him with strike options that are legal. It's also likely intended as pushback against recent reporting emphasizing that the president has almost total control over how the nuclear arsenal is used.

While the President retains constitutional authority to order some military action, Kehler explained that the nuclear decision process "includes assessment, review and consultation between the President and key civilian and military leaders, followed by transmission and implementation of any Presidential decision by the forces themselves".

At the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday, the first one of this kind in over 40 years, some senators raised the alarm about Trump, who has threatened to unleash "fire and fury" against North Korea, pulling the nuclear trigger. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut.

Acton said a president rightly has unchecked authority to use nuclear weapons in response to an actual or imminent nuclear attack.

"We're not stupid people", he said, "We think about these things a lot".

Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School, says changes of this sort would put a valuable check on the president and protect his nuclear authority from potential military insubordination.

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