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特朗普和金正恩在各自“核按钮”的
大小、位置和威力上吹牛

《万维读者网》 January 3, 2018

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唐纳德·特朗普总统和朝鲜领导人金正恩(Kim Jong-un)本周在各自“核按钮”的大小、位置和威力上相互威胁。

  数十年来,一名领导人把手指放在一个按钮——一个能够发动一场毁灭世界的袭击的装置——上的形象,一直象征着核武器的发射速度和按按钮的这个人不受约束的权力。

  唯一的问题在于,根本没有按钮。

  前《纽约时报》专栏作家、总统演讲稿撰稿人威廉·萨菲尔(William Safire)追踪发现,“手指放在按钮上”这个说法起源于“二战”时期的轰炸机上的紧急按钮。飞行员可以按下这个按钮,示意其他机组人员跳下飞机,因为飞机受损严重。但紧张的飞行员常常过早或在非必要情况下按下按钮。

  这个表达通常被用来表示“做好了发动一场核战争的准备”,但萨菲尔在《萨菲尔的政治词典》(Safire’s Political Dictionary)中补充说,在总统选举期间,这也是一个“用来攻击候选人的恐吓用语”。

  林登·B·约翰逊(Lyndon B. Johnson)总统在1964年对他的共和党对手巴里·M·戈德华特(Barry M. Goldwater)说,一个领导人必须“采取一切得体的举措,避免扣动扳机,按下那个会炸掉全世界的按钮”。

  理查德·M·尼克松(Richard M. Nixon)在越南战争期间对顾问表示,他想让北越的人认为他是一个不可预测的“疯子”,“当他生气并把手放在核按钮上时”,没人能阻止他。

  在2016年大选期间,希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)谈到对手时说,“特朗普不该把手指放在那个按钮上,也不该把手放在我们的经济上。”

  每个拥有核能力的国家都有自己的袭击发动制度,但大部分依赖政府首脑先确认自己的身份,然后授权发动袭击。

  尽管特朗普发推文说,他的按钮比金正恩的“更大且更有威力”,但事实上,根本没有这样一个按钮。

  但有一个足球。不过这个足球其实是一个公文包。

  无论总统走到哪里,这个被称作“核足球”的45磅(约合20公斤)重的公文包都会跟着。它一直由五名军事助手中的一人携带,他们代表美国武装部队的五个组成部分。

  公文包里有一份实施打击的指导手册,包括一份清单,上面列出了构成美国武器库的900件核武器可以瞄准的地点。包里还有一个无线电收发机和多个代码验证器。

  要授权攻击,总统必须先提供一个代码,证实自己的身份。他应该把这个代码随时带在身上。这个代码常被说成是一张“卡片”,绰号“饼干”。

  在比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)总统任期的最后几年,担任参谋长联席会议(Joint Chiefs of Staff)主席的亨利·H·谢尔顿(Henry H. Shelton)上将在2010年出版的自传中写道,克林顿把“饼干”弄丢了几个月,没有告诉任何人。

  “这是大事,”谢尔顿写道,“天大的事。”

  总统不需要得到其他任何人的批准,包括国会或军方,便可授权打击。这个决定可能不得不立即做出。

  然而,一些政界人士呼吁增加审批程序。

  “在参议院待的时间越长,越担心有人犯重大错误,”加利福尼亚州民主党参议员黛安·费恩斯坦(Dianne Feinstein)在2016年说。“总统一个人全权负责。如果他出错了,天晓得,就是大决战了。”

  朝鲜核计划的很多细节都笼罩在神秘之中。

  但金正恩是这个与世隔绝的国家无可争辩的统治者。发动攻击的任何决定都极有可能是他独自做出的。近几个月,金正恩威胁要用导弹在美国位于太平洋上的领土关岛附近点燃“包围的火焰”,并警告说朝鲜的洲际弹道导弹具备抵达美国本土的能力。

  “核按钮始终放在我办公室办公桌上,这并不是威胁,而是事实,”金正恩在周一的讲话中说。“美国本土全境已进入我们的核攻击射程内。”

  他的桌子上是否真的有一个按钮值得怀疑。此外,朝鲜可能无法在几秒钟内发动洲际攻击,更别说几分钟了。

  据信,朝鲜射程最远的导弹是由液体火箭燃料驱动的。这意味着导弹无法储存和随时发射。它们必须在发射前装载燃料,这个过程可能要花好几个小时。

  然而,更新、射程更短的导弹装载的是固体燃料,这降低了它们在朝鲜的敌人发现攻击之前发射的难度。

What it actually takes to launch a nuclear strike

President Donald Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday that he has a nuclear "button" on his desk at all times and boasted that the US has "much bigger & more powerful" nuclear weapons — a stunning threat that has once again raised questions over what it takes to actually launch a nuclear warhead.

"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.' Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" Trump tweeted.

The image of the President with his finger on a "button" that is capable of initiating a nuclear strike has been used to symbolize the speed at which the process of such an order can be carried out for decades.

Contrary to popular belief, the "nuclear football" which always accompanies a President does not contain a button but instead has the equipment and the decision-making papers that Trump would use to authenticate his orders and launch a strike.

"The President by himself cannot press a button and cause missiles to fly. He can only give an authenticated order which others would follow and then missiles would fly," Dr. Peter Feaver, a professor of public policy and political science at Duke University, told congressional lawmakers last year.

"The system is not a button that the President can accidentally lean on against the desk and immediately cause missiles to fly as some people in the public, I think, fear it would be," Feaver testified.

He added that the decision to launch a strike requires the President to work with military aides possessing the materials he needs to order an attack, as well as personnel at all levels, from top commanders all the way down to service members working in the missile silos.

Whether he is at the White House, in a motorcade, aboard Air Force One or on a trip overseas, Trump is never more than an arm's reach away as the aide carrying the football rides in the same elevator, stays on the same hotel floor and is protected by the same Secret Service agents.

There is also a football for the vice president in case the President is incapacitated.
The Presidential Emergency Satchel, as it is formally called, contains four things, according to former White House Military Office Director Bill Gulley's book "Breaking Cover."

There is a black book listing a menu of strike options; a three-by-five-inch card with authentication codes for the President to confirm his identity; a list of secure bunkers where the President can be sheltered; and instructions for using the Emergency Broadcast System.

While the military officers who would carry out a nuclear launch are required to work in pairs, where both must concur before they can execute a nuclear launch, there is no such check on the President's actions.

"Only the President of the United States can order the employment of US nuclear weapons," according to retired Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, who testified before congressional lawmakers last year.

Much of the nuclear launch process is classified but Kehler, who previously served as the commander of US Strategic Command under President Barack Obama, explained that there are layers of safeguards within the current system designed to ensure any order is both legal and proportionally appropriate.

"This is a system controlled by human beings ... nothing happens automatically," he said, adding that the US military does not blindly follow orders and a presidential order to employ nuclear weapons must be legal.

While the President retains constitutional authority to order some military action, Kehler explained that the nuclear decision process "includes assessment, review and consultation between the President and key civilian and military leaders, followed by transmission and implementation of any presidential decision by the forces themselves."

Gen. John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, has shared what would happen if he were ordered to launch a nuclear strike.

"I provide advice to the President," Hyten said in November during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. "He'll tell me what to do, and if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm going to say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.' Guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated."

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