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Markey wants to curb Trump’s power to launch nuclear weapons

Senator Ed Markey in Boston earlier this month.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey wants to strip President Trump’s power to launch a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

A bill Markey filed Tuesday, also introduced in the House by Representative Ted Lieu of California, comes amid fears over Trump’s comments on nuclear weapons.

The bill is mostly a political statement, with little chance of passage. It would radically alter long-standing US military strategy concerning a nuclear first strike, and, in a GOP-controlled Congress, is unlikely to win favor.

“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival,” Markey said in a statement. “Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy provides him with that power.”


Through their legislation, Markey and Lieu are looking to curtail America’s first strike policy, which allows the country to launch a preemptive nuclear attack.

Trump has repeatedly drawn criticism for his comments on America’s policy on nuclear weapons. On December 22, he tweeted “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

He followed up by telling MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

Now as Trump has assumed office and has the nuclear codes, Markey and Lieu are looking to add extra barriers to his ability to deploy nuclear weapons.

“In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation,” Markey continued in his statement. “Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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