Former launch officers urge Congress to curb Trump’s nuclear powers

More than a dozen former nuclear launch officers are calling on Congress to rein in President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE’s ability to launch nuclear weapons, saying they are more worried about Trump now than before he took office.

“In the final weeks of the presidential election, we sounded our alarm over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as commander-in-chief, with absolute authority over the nation’s nuclear arsenal,” the 17 former missileers wrote in an open letter to Congress on Thursday. “One year into the Trump presidency, our alarm has only intensified and we must raise our voices again.

“The president has had ample opportunity to educate and humble himself to the grave responsibilities of his office. Instead, he consistently shows himself to be easily baited, stubborn in his ignorance of world politics and diplomacy, and quick to brandish nuclear threats. The reality of this presidency is worse than we feared.” 

The letter was organized by Global Zero, the international organization pushing for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

In their letter, the retired officers cited as a cause for concern Trump’s recent tweet boasting that he has a bigger “nuclear button” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as his summer threat to bring “fire and fury” to North Korea if it doesn’t stop its own threats.

“Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has put the United States on a collision course with North Korea,” they wrote. “Worse, it appears the president is operating under the belief that these threats of nuclear war are working; we can only expect this behavior will continue.”

Trump has credited his tough rhetoric with this week’s high-level talks between North and South Korea, the first in two years.

The missileers highlighted a number of proposals that have been put forward by lawmakers to curb the ability to launch a nuclear first strike, any of which they said would be “common-sense.”

Those include bills that would require a declaration of war before a first strike, establish a U.S. policy of “no first strike” or give the Defense secretary and attorney general a role in certifying a launch order.

Democrats have pushed the bills to constrain Trump’s power, but it’s unlikely they will be taken up by a Republican-controlled Congress.

Still, the officers urged members of both parties to “come together to reform the system.” 

“We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish commander-in-chief,” they wrote. “No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction.”

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