hair-trigger alert


No President Should Be Able to Start a Nuclear War Single-Handedly

, analyst

Among the general craziness of the 2016 presidential campaign, you can be forgiven if you missed one particular crazy piece of information: the president of the United States currently has the authority to order the launch of nuclear weapons without input from anyone. This has actually been the case for decades, but the campaign brought it to the attention of the general public, many of whom were hearing it for the first time and were understandably surprised, and even somewhat alarmed, at the idea. Read more >

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Trump and the Nuclear Codes: How To Launch a Nuclear Weapon

, co-director and senior scientist

There has been a lot of talk about the fact that after his inauguration, Donald Trump will have his finger on the “button” used to launch nuclear weapons. But the president does not actually have a “button.”

Instead when he becomes president he will be given nuclear codes that enable him to launch a nuclear strike.

What does that actually mean? Read more >

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On Nuclear Weapons, You Can Never Say Never

, analyst

There’s been an unusual debate going on over the past couple of weeks in the United Kingdom after Jeremy Corbyn—head of the Labour party—declared that if he were to become Prime Minister, he would not use nuclear weapons. Not everyone was happy with his statement, but it also seems not everyone understands how nuclear deterrence works. Read more >

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The No-Muss, No-Fuss Solution to Preventing Accidental Nuclear War

, Washington representative and senior analyst

Here’s something I bet you say to yourself pretty often: “Boy, I sure hope I don’t die in an accidental nuclear war today.” Okay, you may never have said that, but if you thought about it, you would.

More importantly, while it is not highly likely that you will die in an accidental or mistaken nuclear war today, the chances of that happening are likely greater than of dying in an intentional nuclear war—probably much greater. And that’s just plain crazy. Read more >

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What is the Administration’s Rationale for Keeping Missiles on Hair-Trigger Alert?

, co-director and senior scientist

One of the sensible ideas the non-nuclear weapon states promoted at both the 2010 and 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conferences is the idea that the nuclear weapon states should take their missiles off high alert and eliminate the option to launch nuclear weapons on warning of an attack. This would reduce the risk of accidental, mistaken, and unauthorized launches while retaining deterrence by post-attack retaliation. Read more >

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