In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the experts grappled with what scenarios encompass "imminent" threats, when the president could order an attack without congressional approval, and what checks exist. Corker said a number of lawmakers have raised questions about the process and deployment of the US nuclear arsenal.
He said the nuclear doctrines were worked out during the Cold War, when the president was given sole authority to order a nuclear strike.
Tuesday's hearing marks the first time since 1976 since either the House or Senate Foreign Relations Committees have examined the president's ability to use nuclear weapons. "But I would like to explore ... the realities of this system", he said.
Members of the Senate foreign affairs committee called into question a decades-old presidential authority to deploy nuclear weapons in what was the first congressional hearing on nuclear authorization in decades.
"The committee is clearly looking for remedies to ensure that a demented president could not unilaterally start a nuclear conflagration", said Bruce Blair, an expert on nuclear command and control and a research scholar at the Program of Science and Global Security at Princeton University.
U.S. President Donald Trump's power to launch nuclear weapons is under scrutiny by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress concerned over his comments about striking North Korea.
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"This is a system controlled by human beings. nothing happens automatically", he said, adding that the U.S. military does not blindly follow orders and a presidential order to employ nuclear weapons must be legal.
Bills filed in January by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Sen. Neither piece of legislation has gained any traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. He said those comments are fueled by Trump's statements about North Korea, including his remark in August that the US could respond to Pyongyang with "fire and fury like the world has never seen".
In an interview with The New York Times, Corker, Trump's most outspoken Republican critic in Congress, accused Trump of undermining diplomacy efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and warned that the president's actions could set the nation on the path to World War III.
"I think hard cases make bad law, and I think if we were to change the decision-making process in some way because of a distrust of this President, I think that would be an unfortunate precedent", said Brian Mckeon, who previously served as Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy during the Obama administration.
"This discussion is long overdue", Corker said when he announced the hearing.
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