Fearing preemptive strike by Trump on North Korea, Democrats introduce new legislation

The legislation seeks to stop a "mistake by Trump [that] could kill hundreds of thousands on Korean Peninsula."

By Jennie Neufeld

Published October 26, 2017 2:53PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Molly Riley-Pool)
(Getty/Molly Riley-Pool)

The first steps have been taken in an effort to limit President Donald Trump’s power and ability to launch a nuclear first-strike against North Korea. The ground-breaking legislation introduced by Senators Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Cory Booker, D-N.J., will “prohibit any preemptive action [without a] vote by Congress,” according to Sen. Murphy, who took to Twitter to make the announcement.

The bill goes a step further than one reintroduced by Democrats in January which would not allow the president to launch a nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. Rather, this new legislation makes clear “that any unauthorized preemptive strike on N. Korea - nuclear or conventional - is illegal,” according to Sen. Murphy. The senators reason that a “mistake by Trump could kill hundreds of thousands on [the] Korean Peninsula.”

The bill comes at a time when tension between the United States and Pyongyang is at an all-time — and somewhat painful — high. There is immense uncertainty as to what the future holds for these diplomatic relations. In mid-October, North Korea’s U.N.-Deputy Ambassador, Kim In Ryong told the General Assembly that nuclear war “may break out any moment” as the East Asian nation is now a “full-fledged nuclear power.”

The warning comes in response to Trump’s own threats — and an ongoing back and forth of name calling the two leaders have engaged in. In September, the president called Kim Jong-un “little rocket man” and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. He also said the North Korean leader “tested like never before." Jong-un shot back by calling the president a “dotard” who will “pay dearly" and "face results beyond his expectation."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been working with Chief of Staff John Kelly to establish within the president some semblance of self-control, said negotiations with North Korea are still on the table “until the first bomb drops.”

Though Trump has not yet commented on the legislation, if it does land on his radar, his penchant for Twitter attacks points to the likely possibility that a response is imminent.

Murphy has called on “all the Republicans breaking w Trump,” such as Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. — who have recently found themselves in the midst of feuds with the President — “to actually constrain his most dangerous power - to make war.”

Jennie Neufeld

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Donald Trump Kim Jong Un Legislation North Korea Rex Tillerson