Former Secretary of Defense William Perry provided insight into how nuclear strikes are ordered in a new interview, saying the president can bypass his or her Cabinet and members of Congress and order the strike directly to the military.
Perry spoke with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast and said President Donald Trump — or whoever occupies the Oval Office — has the power to green light a pre-emptive nuclear strike without first consulting with the secretary of defense.
“The order can go directly from the president to the Strategic Air Command. The defense secretary is not necessarily in that loop,” Perry said. “So, in a five- or six- or seven-minute kind of decision, the secretary of defense probably never hears about it until it’s too late. If there is time, and if he does consult the secretary, it’s advisory, just that.
“Whether [the president] goes with it or doesn’t go with it — [the secretary] doesn’t have the authority to stop it.”
Trump has threatened to conduct a military strike, although not necessarily a nuclear one, against North Korea as that country continues to ramp up its own nuclear weapons program and threaten the U.S. and its allies.
Perry took part in negotiations to curb North Korea’s military actions when he served during the Clinton administration, and told Politico the Trump administration needs to keep diplomacy alive.
“We missed our major chance to negotiate with them back at the turn of the century, but that doesn’t mean that diplomacy has no role today,” Perry said. “And when you consider the alternatives to diplomacy, it’s pretty clear we ought to be trying it.”
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