Clinton would consider taking nuclear missiles off hair trigger alert

John Raby on January 22, 2016
Secretary Clinton said she would consider proposals to take nuclear missiles off hair trigger alert status. She acknowledged that the possibility of cyber-attacks triggering a false alarm is a serious concern.

After congratulating Secretary Clinton on her work with the latest START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) treaty, I asked her whether she would take our nuclear missiles off hair trigger alert. As I asked the question, a young man in the audience raised his hand in a thumbs up salute, and everyone in the room seemed to feel that the question was important.

Ms.Clinton replied that we must do all in our power to reduce the risk involved with nuclear weapons, stating that while she couldn't commit to taking them off hair trigger alert, the proposal to do so is worth serious consideration. She added that right now, her biggest worries about nuclear weapons are that they might fall into the hands of terrorists and that a successful cyberattack on our nuclear defense system might trigger a false alarm that sets off a nuclear war.  "You know we are having a bit of tension with the Russians and President Putin, so we can’t, we have no room for misunderstanding, so we have to look hard at what you suggested.  I’m not committing to it, I’m just saying that I’m aware of it as a very serious potential issue." 

It was not as firm an answer as we might like, but it seems to point in a positive direction.

Clinton also talked about the danger of nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists.  "Deterrence doesn't work with terrorists," she said.  

At the end of the session, I was able to give her a list of notables who have said we should end hair trigger alert, along with a copy of the summary of Gen. James Cartwright's report on why we should do so.

 

 

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