UMN Expert: President’s authority to use nuclear weapons

November 13, 2017
Mark Bell

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is scheduled to hold a hearing on the “Authority to Order the Use of Nuclear Weapons.” According to Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Tuesday’s hearing is part of the Senate’s examination of “the authority and process for using U.S. nuclear weapons,” an issue Congress has not revisited since 1976.

Mark Bell—assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and expert on nuclear weapons and proliferation, international relations theory and U.S. and British foreign policy—is available to provide expert comment on presidential authority to order the use of nuclear weapons and the significance of Tuesday’s hearing.

"The use of nuclear weapons is one of few areas in which the president's powers are close to absolute: if the president gives an order to use nuclear weapons, the entire system is set up to execute the order, and to do so quickly and without question. Congress last held hearings on these issues in the 1970s but nothing changed as a result. While it is unlikely that any change in policy will occur in the short term, revisiting these issues does at least suggest disquiet among both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate about Donald Trump's powers in this area."

Professor Bell holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, where he was a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow, and a B.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from St. Anne's College, Oxford University.

Mark Bell
Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota

Contact information:
msbell@umn.edu
612-626-2889  (office)
202-294-3364 (cell)

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