According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin called US President Donald J. Trump to thank him for a tip provided by the CIA that thwarted a terrorist attack that targeted the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.
According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin called US President Donald J. Trump to thank him for a tip provided by the CIA that thwarted a terrorist attack that targeted the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. EPA - MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV - SPUTNIK - KREML

TRUMP'S LAUNCH CODES: ‘Reality is worse than we feared’

SEVENTEEN former nuclear launch officers have signed an open letter calling for President Trump's access to the "proverbial red button" be restricted amid fears his "petulant mood swings" could lead to a nuclear strike.

It follows a similar letter calling for restrictions on the nuclear chain of command written while Trump was on the campaign trail. One year into the presidency, the nuclear officers say "the reality of this presidency is worse than we feared."

"The president has had ample opportunity to educate and humble himself to the grave responsibilities of his office. Instead, he consistently shows himself to be easily baited, stubborn in his ignorance of world politics and diplomacy, and quick to brandish nuclear threats," the group states.

They claim rising rhetoric against North Korea highlights the clear flaw in the process that could endanger millions around the world - that there are no checks on the President should he decide to order a nuclear strike.

"As former nuclear launch control officers, it was our job to fire nuclear missiles if the president so directed. Once the president orders a launch, we could have missiles leaving their silos in several minutes. They cannot be recalled.

"The missiles would reach their destination - whether Russia, China or North Korea - within 30 minutes. There is no act of greater consequence, and it should not rest in the hands of any one person."

"We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish commander-in-chief. No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction," the group said.

It comes following a warning from UK think tank Chatham House that an "unintended" nuclear strike is possible given heightened tensions and the vulnerability of many systems to cyber attack.

The International Security Department's Dr Patricia Lewis and Dr Beyza Unal published the paper, Cybersecurity Of Nuclear Weapons Systems, which said the nine countries that have nuclear weapons often rely on strategic systems 

"The most severe consequence of a cyber attack on one or more nuclear weapons systems would be the inadvertent launch of missiles and/or the inadvertent detonation of a warhead that lead to a significant loss of life," it said.

"Further consequences of such a cyber attack include sector-level impacts, such as in the medical sector, which may have to deal with casualties; disruption of workforces and operations of defence companies or vendors; as well as economic and reputational costs to countries and private companies. Such an event would also increase the likelihood of crisis and conflict."

The report notes a mind-boggling number of ways cyber attackers could infiltrate a nuclear weapons system without a country being aware of it for years or until it's too late.

The result could lead to confusion as countries try to ascertain whether they have been subject to a cyber attack or not, how to respond and which weapons to use. The authors claim it could lead to "inadvertent nuclear launches" based on an "unwitting reliance" on false information.

Making the problem worse is the sheer scale of digital infrastructure used to control everything from layouts of facilities to personnel, operational information, communication links, and weather and target information. Data hacks could be used to disrupt missiles once launched and take over nuclear armed submarines, the report claimed.


It comes during a state of heightened nuclear tension following heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea as well as greater Russian military activity and a build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe.

Trump supporters claim his refusal to rule out military options has helped achive an about face from North Korea, who is now engaged in a dialogue with the South and is subject to tough UN economic.

However veteran nuclear launch officer, Dr. Bruce Blair, who founded Global Zero to eliminate nuclear weapons said he could no longer watch as President Trump "holds us all hostage to his petulant mood swings."

"Our weapons have the power to destroy entire nations, including our own nation if he initiates a nuclear war. As a former steward of the nuclear launch keys, I've learned about the stability, competence and temperament it takes to hold such a responsibility, and Donald Trump has shown us all he possesses none of those qualities," he said.