Democrats Work To Stop Trump From Launching Nuclear Strike on North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA/Reuters

Democratic Senators are trying to prevent President Donald Trump from being able to launch a nuclear first strike against North Korea.

Senators Chris Murphy, Corey Booker, and Brian Schatz will introduce a bill that would give Congress alone the ability to call in a first strike after a vote, Murphy announced Wednesday.

"Trump's North Korea threats are real," Senator Murphy of Connecticut wrote on Twitter late Wednesday, stating they intend to constrain the president's executive authority to use nuclear weapons.

"My bill w @brianschatz & @CoryBooker makes clear that any unauthorized preemptive strike on N Korea—nuclear or conventional—is illegal," Murphy said.

He reached across the aisle to Republicans, encouraging Senators who have broken with Trump that "here is your chance to actually constrain his most dangerous power—to make war."

The bill follows a similar one introduced by Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu in the House in January and comes in response to Trump's repeated threats of military action against North Korea if it continues its nuclear weapons development program.

Trump's North Korea threats are real. I will intro bill w @brianschatz & @CoryBooker to prohibit any preemptive action w/o vote by Congress.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 26, 2017

"A nuclear first-strike absent an imminent threat to the U.S. is already illegal," Murphy said earlier this month.

Right now President Trump has the authority to order a nuclear weapons launch at any time if there is an an imminent threat to the U.S. The Secretary of Defense can refuse to carry out the order, but can be fired immediately and replaced.

Read more: A U.S. preemptive strike on North Korea would only make things worse for everyone

In early October Kim In Ryong, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said that nuclear war "may break out at any moment."

Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. are at an all time high after Trump threatened military action and "fire and fury like the world has never seen" against North Korea over the summer after Pyongyang conducted a series of tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). They have also carried out an underground nuclear weapons test.

Last week Trump said during an interview on Fox Business Network that "you would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are" for military action against Pyongyang. "Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows, who knows," the president said.

During an interview with Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs Wednesday Trump said the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons program "should have been solved long before I came to office." Nevertheless, Trump said the problem "was given to me and I get it solved. I solve problems."

Rep Lieu warned this month that a preemptive nuclear strike "would be catastrophic" because "we don't know where all of North Korea's weapons are," raising the possibility that Pyongyang could retaliate.

Currently both the House and Senate are controlled by Republican majorities, so Democrats would need to get prominent members of the GOP onside to have any hope of passing the bills.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cautioned early this month that Trump could put the U.S. "on the path to World War III" because he treats the presidency "like he's doing The Apprentice or something."

Murphy urged his Republican colleagues like Corker Wednesday that a "mistake by Trump could kill hundreds of thousands on Korean Peninsula," in hopes they will support his bill to "clarify Trump's war powers."

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