He explained that he would tell the president if something which he ordered was illegal, and they would then come up with options to respond to he situation legally.
"And if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen?"
"This is a system controlled by human beings. nothing happens automatically", he said, adding that the USA military does not blindly follow orders and a presidential order to employ nuclear weapons must be legal.
"But I think it's a genuinely important subject, and I think it's one we should be debating irrespective of who the president is", he said. We think about these things a lot.
'If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail.
While Hyten's comments on Saturday likely brought some relief to those concerned about Trump's finger on the nuclear button, Bruce Blair, a former nuclear missile launch officer and co-founder of the Global Zero group that advocates eliminating nuclear weapons, said there's an another important caveat that shouldn't be missed: The Strategic Command chief, Hyten in this case, could be bypassed by the president. All the U.S. top brass, himself included, are trained to disobey "illegal" orders.
While the President retains that authority, Hyten publicly emphasized that the USA military always has the obligation to follow only legal orders, including those entailing the launch of nuclear weapons. "You could go to jail for the rest of your life".
Trump has also, on numerous occasions, pledged to unleash "fire and fury" and to "totally destroy" North Korea if he deems fit.More news: Tired Goffin insists: 'I will be ready for Davis Cup final'
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The U.S. military's stockpile of nuclear weapons is one of the most existentially terrifying arsenals ever assembled, and a conflict involving the detonation of even small percentage of those weapons could potentially destabilize the entire world.
In a hearing earlier this week, Sen.
President Trump has not publicly commented on Gen Hyten's remarks.
"And we are ready every minute of every day to respond to any event that comes out of North Korea".
At the Senate hearing this week, experts testified that the use of nuclear weapons must be proportional to a threat, and the Pentagon has extensive options for use of conventional weapons against North Korea. "That's the element of deterrence that has to be clear, and it is clear", Hyten said.
He also explained that handling such a delicate and unpredictable situation - like Kim Jong Un's leadership - needs to be an worldwide effort.
The Los Angeles Times published a column by Doyle McManus, which had the question and answer in the headline: "Is there anything stopping Trump from launching a nuclear strike?"
On November 11, Trump tweeted: 'Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old", when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?"