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New York Times Editorial Demands Restraint on President’s Authority To Launch Nuclear First Strike

March 8, 2024 (EIRNS)—The New York Times ran the “Sole Authority,” the second of a series of op-eds on the risks of nuclear war, entitled “On the Brink,” by national security columnist William J. Hennigan yesterday. This one is focused on the president’s sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. Hennigan dramatically highlights the long-established reality that in the event a nuclear attack is launched on the U.S., the President has about 15 minutes to decide what to do. There’s probably no better option in that kind of situation, Hennigan says. “It is, however, unacceptable for an American President to have the sole authority to launch a nuclear first strike without a requirement for consultation or consensus,” he says.

Hennigan’s argument stems, in part, from the drummed-up fears that Donald Trump was on the verge of ordering a first strike on North Korea, but Hennigan never argues in favor of a no-first-strike policy, which the U.S. has never had. Instead, Congress should enact legislation to “establish a new legal framework that restricts the President from being able to issue a nuclear launch order without the consent of another senior official unless the United States is already under attack. The legislation should identify two other senior government leaders and require at least one of them to concur with a decision to launch before the nuclear-tipped missiles blast off.”

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