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    HomeMilitaryThe Transfer of Nuclear Authority: Exploring U.S. Presidential Control over Nuclear Launches

    The Transfer of Nuclear Authority: Exploring U.S. Presidential Control over Nuclear Launches

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent statements amidst his celebratory presidential election victory underscore the ever-present specter of nuclear war.

    In light of heightened tensions with NATO, Putin alluded to potential nuclear responses if global conflict were to escalate, echoing fears of nuclear proliferation as the “single biggest problem” the U.S. faces.

    The cold mechanics of nuclear war do not solely reside in the realm of hypotheticals.

    Reference to Princeton’s chilling “Plan A” simulation paints a stark picture: a mere tactical nuclear exchange could spiral into a global catastrophe, with an estimated 91.5 million immediate fatalities.

    Should Moscow ever target the U.S., it is believed that the strike would aim to paralyze military, political leadership, and key infrastructural nodes from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco.

    The Federation of American Scientists illuminates this grim horizon, tallying thousands of nuclear weapons at Russia’s and the U.S.’s disposal.

    It is estimated that Russia has around 5,580 nuclear weapons, compared with the U.S.’s 5,428.

    Both are thought to have around 1,600 active deployed strategic nuclear warheads.

    While the decision to deploy these weapons remains at the pinnacle of presidential power, historical near-misses, and procedural nuances stir debate over the wisdom of such concentrated authority.

    The chain of command—from the President to the military war room—ensures that an order, once given, unfurls with unstoppable force.

    The President’s “biscuit,” or Gold Code, authenticates a decision that could unchain Armageddon.

    During the 1973 Arab-Israel War, a midnight Pentagon message had crewmates and myself bracing for retaliatory nuclear strikes amidst Nixon-era tensions and the Watergate scandal.

    Questions lingered about the integrity of nuclear command, especially considering interventions by Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, who instructed the Pentagon to consult him before executing any nuclear orders from a potentially impaired Nixon.

    The chilling reality that a single phone call can trigger a nuclear holocaust mandates unwavering presidential stability under the most extreme stress.

    Mistakes can cascade from NORAD’s early warning hub, as exemplified by the 1979 false alarm that nearly pushed National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to wake President Carter for a decision that could have ended civilization.

    Relevant articles:
    Map Shows US Cities Russia Would Strike First if War Broke Out, newsweek.com
    Loose cannons: The president and US nuclear posture, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
    What exactly would it mean to have Trump’s finger on the nuclear button?, politico.eu
    Strengthening Checks on Presidential Nuclear Launch Authority, Arms Control Association

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