President Donald Trump, Jan. 2, Twitter: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

President Trump doesn’t really have a “Nuclear Button” on his desk. According to, “If the president were to order a strike, he would identify himself to military officials at the Pentagon with codes unique to him. He would then transmit the launch order to the Pentagon and Strategic Command.” The U.S. has roughly 6,800 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert status. Presumably, the next step would be to deploy them. (God forbid.)

Hair-trigger means nuclear missiles may be launched within 15 minutes — either from land, air or sea. Thousands of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads are on hair-trigger alert.

Forty-nine of these missiles are sitting nearby on the windswept plains of northeastern Colorado. There are 400 more scattered over Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana.

Each missile has one nuclear bomb with a blast capacity equivalent to 12 to 18 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. The orders to launch would come from the president and go down through the chain of command to the crews ready to turn their keys.

A 2002 study by the Federation of American Scientists showed that if just 300 Russian warheads (North Korea may have 60) got through to targets in the United States, 75 million to 100 million people would die from the blast and heat effects in the first half hour. In addition, the public health system, the communications network, the electric grid, the banking system, the food distribution system — all would be gone. In the months after such an attack, the vast majority of Americans not killed in the initial attack would die from starvation, radiation sickness, epidemic disease or exposure to the elements. A corresponding U.S. attack would create the same devastation in Russia or the Korean Peninsula.

This is insane. We need to abolish all nuclear weapons. Start by getting Colorado’s weapons off hair-trigger alert and passing Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Ted Lieu’s bill to limit the president’s first-strike capabilities and change it so that only Congress could authorize a strike.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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