The Big Red Button

A U.S. president can launch a first-strike nuclear attack at any time and, according to the law, does not need to seek advice first. Some experts think that’s too much power to put in one person’s hands. 

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Host
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Credits

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Richard K. Betts
    Adjunct Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
  • Alexandra Bell
    Senior Policy Director, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation
  • Abigail Stowe-Thurston
    Program Coordinator, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

Show Notes

In the United States, the president has sole and unconstrained power to launch a first-strike nuclear attack. While the system is built to provide the president with as much expert advice as possible, consultation is not legally required, and some experts say that such an order could be executed in a matter of minutes. 

 

Today, we unpack the president’s sole authority to launch, and its implications for national and global security. Is it wise to invest so much power in the hands of one person? What are the alternatives? Gabrielle Sierra explores a system that has been overlooked for years, as she sits down with three nuclear security experts.   

 

From CFR

 

Nuclear Weapons, CFR

 

What the INF Treaty’s Collapse Means for Nuclear Proliferation,” Lori Esposito Murray

 

The Lingering Specter of Nuclear War,” Stewart M. Patrick

 

Read More

 

What is US nuclear policy, exactly?,” Abigail Stowe-Thurston

 

Explosion Shines New Light on ‘Secret Nuclear Cities’,” Alexandra Bell

 

The President and the Bomb,” Richard Betts

 

What Should the World Do With Its Nuclear Weapons?,” Joseph Cirincione, Atlantic

 

An Unsung Hero of the Nuclear Age,” Ron Rosenbaum, Slate

 

Our Apocalypses, Ourselves,” Emma Claire Foley, Inkstick

 

American students aren’t taught nuclear weapons policy in school. Here’s how to fix that problem.,” Erin Connolly and Kate Hewitt, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 

 

Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, Center for Strategic & International Studies

 

Watch and Listen 

 

Here's how Trump's nuclear button actually works…” Vox

 

What If We Nuke a City,” Kurzgesagt

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