General Wouldn't Follow Trump Order for 'Illegal' Nuclear Strike
'It's not that complicated,' says head of US Strategic Command
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2017 2:46 PM CST
Gen. John Hyten, head US Strategic Command, speaks to reporters following a change of command ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb., Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(Newser) – The commander of US Strategic Command says he wouldn't launch a nuclear strike he believed to be "illegal" if ordered to do so by President Trump, CBS News reports. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the top US nuclear commander, says he doesn't take the responsibility lightly. "We're not stupid people," he said Saturday at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia. "We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?" That includes what to do if the president gave an order for an unlawful nuclear strike.

"If it's illegal, guess what's going to happen?" Hyten said. "I'm going to say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is." He added: "It's not that complicated." Reuters reports Hyten's comments came just four days after a Senate committee held the first congressional hearing on the president's authority to launch a nuclear strike in more than 40 years. Some senators are pushing for legislation to curb the president's power to unilaterally launch a nuclear strike. During the hearing, Democratic Sen. Ed Markey said Trump "can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account." During Saturday's forum, Hyten also spoke about the need to update and replace America's aging nuclear capabilities, according to CBC.

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