By Zachary Cohen and Brian Todd
Feb 28, 2018
President Donald Trump has warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he has a “much bigger & more powerful” nuclear button on his desk at all times.
The image of the President with his finger on a “button” has been used to symbolize US speed and strength.
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But what does it take to actually launch a nuclear warhead?
Contrary to popular belief, the “nuclear football,” which is never more than an arm’s reach away from the President, does not contain a button.
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
A black book of strike options
Authentication codes to confirm the President’s identity
A list of secure bunkers
Instructions for the Emergency Broadcast System
Military officers are required to work in pairs to confirm a nuclear launch, but there is no such check on the President’s actions.
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The President has constitutional authority to order nuclear action, but there are safeguards to ensure that any order is both legal and proportionally appropriate.
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Should the President be incapacitated, there is also a “football” for the vice president.
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