The "nuclear button" is a figurative term referring to the power to use nuclear weapons. "Pushing the nuclear button" refers to actually using them. The actual procedure for using such weapons is more complex than simply pushing a button. The "nuclear button" may be transferred to another official due to political changes or the incapacitation of a person currently in control of it.
Various nuclear countries have nuclear briefcases that accompany the leader (such as the president of the United States), allowing them to launch nuclear missiles at any time.
Depictions of a nuclear buttons sometimes appear in popular culture, an example being the music video for It's a Mistake in which an officer accidentally presses the nuclear button.
North Korean announcement
On January 1, 2018, Kim Jong Un announced during his New Year speech "the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office" in order to make the United States aware that he is able to attack the country at will. US President Trump responded via Twitter on the following day:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
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!
January 2, 2018
Trump has been reported to use a red "Diet Coke button" as a signal for a butler to serve a glass of Diet Coke in the Oval Office. In his 2019 book Team of Vipers, Cliff Sims writes that Trump jokingly referred to it as a nuclear button in front of visitors: “Not sure what to do, guests would look at one another with raised eyebrows. Moments later, a steward would enter the room carrying a glass filled with Diet Coke on a silver platter, and Trump would burst out laughing.”
- Nuclear briefcase, the non-figurative authorization mechanism for the nuclear weapons of various countries
- ^ Pakistan's Zardari hands nuclear button to PM
- ^ "Nuclear button chaos behind Reagan". BBC. March 30, 2001. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
- ^ Gordon, Michael R. (September 20, 1996). "Chernomyrdin to Control 'Nuclear Button' for Yeltsin's Surgery (Published 1996)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
- ^ Orjoux, Alanne (January 1, 2018). "Kim Jong Un says the nuclear button is always on his desk". CNN. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
- ^ "Trump boasts of bigger 'nuclear button' than North Korea's". Fox News. January 2, 2018.
- ^ Sims, Cliff (January 29, 2019). Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House. St. Martin's Publishing Group. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-250-22390-6.