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Washington, Nov 19: Even as the USA and North Korea continue to engage in a vitriolic war of words, US Strategic Command Chief General John E Hyten has said that he will refuse President Donald Trump or his administration’s order to launch nuclear weapons against an adversary if that instruction is deemed to be illegal. General John Hyten’s force controls USA’s nuclear weapons and he has to provide legal strike options to President Trump in the event of a war which threatens to go nuclear.
However, Fox News quoted General John Hyten as telling a panel at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday that he will refuse to launch nuclear weapons if President Trump’s orders are illegal. “If it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen. I’m going to say, ‘Mr President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?'” And we’ll come up with options with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works,” the General said.
He also added that following an illegal order to launch nuclear strikes could also mean that he would spend the rest of his life in jail. The President and the General have also spoken to each other about a likely nuclear war. “I think some people think we’re stupid. We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility how do you not think about it?,’ he said.
Retired General Robert Kehler, who led the US Strategic Command from January 2011 to November 2013, too had testified before the Foreign Relations Committee earlier in November and concluded that US armed forces can refuse to carry out illegal orders.
Ever since President Trump assumed power, relations between the USA and North Korea have turned more vitriolic. In the recent months North Korea under dictator Kim Jong-Un has conducted a series of missile tests some of which can reach the US mainland. But the most worrisome has been the nuclear test conducted by Pyongyang in September which has been described by its state-run KCNA news agency described it as a hydrogen bomb and its biggest nuclear test till date.
Kim has also threatened to mount nuclear weapons of North Korean missiles and target American cities. US President Trump has made prolific use of Twitter to keep up the pressure on Kim and the two have indulged in levelling personal insults against each other. While Trump called Kim “short and fat”, the North Korean dictator responded by calling the US President “dotard,” which means a very old person.