Democrats are trying to change 'ancient' law to stop Donald Trump using nuclear weapons

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the legislation was passed 'in a different world' 

Niamh McIntyre
Friday 13 October 2017 13:37 BST
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump‘s ability to strike first with his country’s nuclear arsenal could be curtailed under a new proposal by his rival Democratic Party.

Senator Nancy Pelosi said her party’s politicians were looking at an option which would require the US leader to get approval from a special Committee before any launch took place.

“The law under which the president can use nuclear weapons is ancient, from 1946,” she told a press conference. “It was passed in a different world.”

The President has ultimate authority to deploy the weapons under the current “first-use” policy.

Ms Pelosi said one option for reform would be legislation ensuring the President could only deploy nuclear warheads if the US was attacked first.

The Democratic Senator stressed that any change to the law should be a bipartisan effort, as it would affect all future Presidents, Republican and Democrat.

Donald Trump to reconsider US aim of world without nuclear weapons

However, she also specifically criticised President Trump’s approach to international diplomacy, which she described as a “stop the world, I want to get off” agenda.

The President has made a series of military threats against North Korea after the secretive communist state launched a series of intercontinental ballistic missiles, two over the Japanese mainland. In September the country claimed to have conducted its second nuclear test.

Mr Trump subsequently threatened to “totally destroy” the country at his first address to the United Nations General Assembly.

This prompted UN General Secretary António Guterres to warn world leaders that the threat of a nuclear attack was “at its highest level since the end of the Cold War.”

Ms Pelosi also criticised the President’s repeated threats to walk away from 2015’s nuclear agreement with Iran which saw international economic sanctions lifted on the country after its government agreed to restrict development of its nuclear weapons.

In doing so, the President “seriously endangers the rest of the world and jeopardises our credibility”, she said.

Iran maintains it has complied with the accord.

However, the President is expected to announce in a speech that he believes the country has not complied with the terms of the deal.

He is also expected to unveil a new program of tougher sanctions against the country, including fresh sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

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