Trump has “unchecked authority to order the use of conventional or nuclear weapons against North Korea,” Bruce G. Blair, a nuclear security expert at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. said in an e-mail. “I believe that both options are being prepared right now.”
The US policy allowing presidents to launch a nuclear strike first “drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation,” Markey said in a statement at the time. “Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack.”
A Markey spokeswoman didn’t immediately have a comment Tuesday.
Trump’s warning that “North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States” or it would face “fire and fury” came after a new report Tuesday said that US intelligence believes North Korea has produced a nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, a key milestone in becoming a nuclear power.
Asked about Trump’s “fire and fury” comments at a press briefing, Kellyanne Conway said his comments were “strong and obvious,” but declined to comment further.
“President Trump has unchecked power over the US nuclear arsenal, which is another reason why deescalation is critical. If conflict erupts, two inexperienced leaders with poor impulse control have nuclear weapons at their fingertips. That is a chilling scenario that the international community would do best to avoid,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the nonprofit Arms Control Association.
Davenport said Trump’s comments were “ill-advised and inflammatory.”
“Loose talk inciting conflict will only continue to spur North Korea to continue advancing its nuclear and misfile programs. Pressure alone is not going to reduce the threat posed by Pyongyang,” she said, “Talks are necessary.”