In the beginning of 2018, President Trump tweeted about North Korean President Kim Jong Un, saying that Trump has a much ‘bigger & powerful nuclear button’ on his desk than him and his button also works. However, the nuclear button he was talking about, it doesn’t really exist.
In place of a ‘button’, there are two physical objects which act as a key to initiate a nuclear attack. These objects are called the ‘football’ and the ‘biscuit’. Now, this is not the kind of football that has seasonal matches and a million people watch it live or on their televisions. This football is a secure briefcase. A Military Officer carries it all the time beside the President. Inside it is a menu of nuclear options that are available to the President including the possible targets and instructions for contacting US military commanders around the world.
The President would be required to consult with military and civilian advisors. In case of President Trump, he will include Lieutenant General John L. Dolan and Commander of US Strategic Command, General John Hyten. Other than the required advisors, the President has the option to consult whoever he wants.
The length of the conversation and the ultimate decision to launch is completely up to the Commander-in-chief. If the President decides to proceed with the nuclear launch, the ‘biscuit’ comes into play. A senior officer in the war room has the responsibility to verify that this command is actually coming from the President and that too without any kind of external pressure. To perform this verification, the officer recites a code and in reply, the President has to respond with a code that is printed on the biscuit. It is actually a card that is carried by the President at all times. Once the command is confirmed, it is communicated to the military personnel who will actually launch the attack, through an actual button perhaps.
The launch crew then executes the plan. It involves unlocking various safes, entering a series of codes, and turning the key to launch the missiles. The whole process is designed to be very quick. Since if a missile is heading towards the USA, it can land within 30-minutes. In other words, if the President decides to perform a nuclear strike, he can do that in about the time it takes to type a tweet. Meanwhile, we just hope that President Trump won’t make use of this button to launch a nuclear strike anywhere in the world anytime soon!