hair-trigger


No President Should Have Absolute Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons

, physicist & co-director, Global Security

After Donald Trump takes the oath of office later this week, he will be given the codes that allow him to order the launch of nuclear weapons.

At that point, Mr. Trump will inherit a deeply flawed system: one that gives sole and absolute authority to the president to launch US nuclear weapons—and that can put extreme time pressure on him to make that decision. Read more >

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Last Call! Obama’s Final Actions on Nuclear Weapons

, physicist & co-director, Global Security

At the beginning of his presidency, President Obama gave a soaring speech in Prague, promising that the US will “put an end to Cold War thinking” and “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.”

His record so far has been somewhat mediocre—but it’s not too late to make a little more progress. Obama could reduce the hedge stockpile of weapons the US keeps in storage, and the amount of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium that the US keeps in case it wants to build even more weapons. It’s surprising that he hasn’t already taken these incremental steps. But their incremental nature also means that the Trump administration is unlikely to object. Read more >

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Nuclear Weapons and the Myth of the “Re-Alerting Race”

, physicist & co-director, Global Security

One of the frustrations of trying to change policy is that frequently repeated myths can short-circuit careful thinking about current policies and keep policy makers from recognizing better alternatives.

That is particularly frustrating—and dangerous—when the topic is nuclear weapons. Read more >

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Top Scientists Call for Obama to Take Nuclear Missiles off Hair-Trigger Alert

, physicist & co-director, Global Security

More than 90 prominent US scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates and 90 National Academy of Sciences members, sent a letter to President Obama yesterday urging him to take US land-based nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert and remove launch-on-warning options from US warplans. Read more >

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How Could a Failed Computer Chip Lead to Nuclear War?

, physicist & co-director, Global Security

The US early warning system is on watch 24/7, looking for signs of a nuclear missile launched at the United States. As a highly complex system with links to sensors around the globe and in space, it relies heavily on computers to do its job. So, what happens if there is a glitch in the computers?

Between November 1979 and June 1980, those computers led to several false warnings of all-out nuclear attack by the Soviet Union—and a heart-stopping middle-of-the-night telephone call. Read more >

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