Reading Room

Nuclear Weapons – Sole Launch Authority

January 28, 2021
The Independet News

Her concern centered on the unhindered ability of the president of the United States to launch nuclear weapons. No one else legally, or practically, is in the chain of command for nuclear launch. Anyone who goes against or fails to carry out such an order risks severe consequences for breaking the law.

Such a system relies totally on the mental and moral wellbeing of the U.S. president. President Trump’s status in that regard has been questioned by many, and he’s not the only POTUS who has caused concern.

In the final days of the Nixon presidency, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger reportedly asked those around President Richard Nixon to inform him before carrying out any military orders, including nuclear ones, issued by the president.

During and since the Cold War, sole presidential launch authority was considered necessary, allowing immediate preemption or retaliation to adversaries should other principals be unavailable. However, in the hands of an unstable, unpredictable POTUS, the risk is unacceptable – thus the concern raised by Pelosi.

Few other countries place sole launch authority in the hands of one person. Even Russia does not.

The Russian system requires a second vote in addition to that of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s.

America’s system does not require any input or second vote, making it particularly dangerous.

We have been incredibly fortunate, particularly during these past four years, that the power to preemptively initiate a nuclear war has not been used. However, when it comes to nuclear weapons, depending on luck is no comfort.

It’s time to rethink and revamp this decision-making process before catastrophic consequences result. For more information, visit

Mary Perner,


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