Donald Trump
Photo: Gage Skidmore

In a new open letter to members of Congress, 17 former nuclear launch officers issued a grave warning regarding President Donald Trump’s access to nuclear weapons.

They declared that the current U.S. nuclear launch process “poses a clear and present danger to the country and the world: No one — not the secretary of defense, not the attorney general, not Congress — can veto that order. There are no reliable safeguards in place to contain this power.”

Download PDF open letter

The letter comes on the heels of tweets from the president in which he boasted about having a “much bigger and more powerful” nuclear button on his desk than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.            

The missileers said there are “a number of good proposals before Congress right now that would rein in the president’s power to order the first use of nuclear weapons. Whether it’s assigning the defense secretary and attorney general a role in certifying a launch order, requiring a congressional declaration of war before the first use of nuclear weapons, or ending the policy of nuclear first use entirely, any of these common-sense measures would reduce the risk we now face.”                                                  

“We cannot stand idly by as Donald Trump holds us all hostage to his petulant mood swings,” said Bruce Blair, a veteran nuclear launch officer and co-founder of the Global Zero movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. “Donald Trump is the last person who should possess the nuclear codes and the power to start a nuclear conflagration. Our weapons have the power to destroy entire nations, including our own nation if he initiates a nuclear war. As a former steward of the nuclear launch keys, I’ve learned about the stability, competence and temperament it takes to hold such a responsibility, and Donald Trump has shown us all he possesses none of those qualities.”

Here's the letter.

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