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There is no more consequential decision for a president than ordering a nuclear strike. In the Cold War, the threat of sudden nuclear annihilation necessitated procedures emphasizing speed and efficiency and placing sole decision-making authority in the president’s hands. In today’s changed threat environment, the legal authorities and process a U.S. president would confront when making this grave decision merit reexamination. This paper serves as a resource in the national discussion about a president’s legal authority and the procedures for ordering a nuclear strike, and whether to update them.

Publication Citation

Nuclear Threat Initiative Paper, Dec. 2019.