The ‘Nuclear Button’ Explained: For Starters, There’s No Button

The leader of North Korea – Kim Jong-un sent threats this week to the president Donald Trump about the location, size, and potency of the so-called “nuclear buttons”.

We all have had an image in our head of a leader with his finger on the button, which is capable of starting a world-ending strike.

There is only one huge problem about this: Simply, there is no such button.

What’s truly the catch with the button?

A former columnist and presidential speechwriter Named William Safire, managed to track the origin of the famous phrase “finger on the button” to panic buttons that were found in the Second World War’s bombers. When a plane has been damaged, a pilot was able to ring a bell in order to signal other crew members that they need to jump from the plane.

One of the examples is when President Lyndon B. Johnson told his Republican opponent (Barry M. Goldwater) that a leader has to “do anything that is honorable to avoid pulling that trigger, mashing that button that will blow up the world.”

During the Vietnam War, Nixon told his advisers that he wanted the opponents to have the expression of him being an unpredictable madman who has the power “to push the nuclear button when he’s angry.”

Maybe you’ve heard this one because it happened recently. During the presidential election in 2016, Hillary Clinton stated: “Trump shouldn’t have his finger on the button, or his hands on our economy.”

How would an attack be launched by President Trump?

The head of government must first authorize the attack before each nuclear-capable country can launch a strike.
President Trump had recently posted a tweet about his “much bigger & more powerful button” in comparison to Mr. Kim’s. Except there is no button.

However, there is a briefcase.

A briefcase, commonly known as “nuclear football”, weighs 45 pounds, is carried by the president accompanied by one of five military aids, which actually represent each branch of the US armed forces.

Inside this briefcase, you will find a radio transceiver, code authenticators, instructional guide to carrying out a strike, and a list of locations that can be easily targeted by the nuclear weapons of the American arsenal.

The president must provide a code in order to verify his identity and authorize the attack. He is supposed to carry the code with him at all times. The code had been described to look like a card, and often called “the biscuit”.

How would an attack be launched by Kim Jong-un.

The nuclear program of North Korea is quite mysterious.

However, Mr. Kim doesn’t have to answer to anyone. He is the ruler of his country and can make the decision to initiate an attack completely by his own will.

Recent threats have been made by Mr. Kim to ignite missiles near American territory.

In a speech this Monday, he stated: “It’s not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office. All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

There are doubts that there is really a button on his desk, and such an attack couldn’t be made just in very few minutes or seconds.



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