Dropping an atomic bomb doesn’t happen as fast as it does in the movies. There’s no room with a red, shiny “nuclear button” primed for the pressing. But in the U.S., launching a nuclear weapon does depend on just one trigger finger: The President’s.
Peace builders, activists, and congressional leaders have tried unsuccessfully to take away this unilateral ability since the Cold War, when nuclear war with Russia felt imminent daily. Now, the threat looms again, as tensions between North Korea and the U.S. simmer—and a new group of local legislators are taking the lead.