The outgoing U.S. President Trump refusal to attend the American Presidential handover ceremony on January 20th has brought an unprecedented question to the fore: How will the “nuclear briefcase” in Trump’s possession be transferred to President-elect Biden?
The US “Business Insider” website stated on the 9th that the so-called “nuclear briefcase” refers to a briefcase in the possession of the President of the United States, usually carried by a full-time assistant, containing a communicator and nuclear code related to launching of nuclear weapons. In the past, its control would be easily transferred between the outgoing and incoming Presidents face to face, but Trump has refused to attend the Presidential handover ceremony, and the “nuclear briefcase” in his possession cannot be used by any third person, even temporarily. Then what should be done?
A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that there were plans in place, but declined to provide any details. Christensen, a nuclear weapon expert at the Federation of American Scientists, speculated that what is meant is a reference to the plan whereby all nuclear command, control and all accompanying equipment is transferred to the Vice President or other senior commanders in order the US President is incapacitated.
The report also mentioned that there are at least three “nuclear suitcases” carried by the President, the Vice President and the “designated survivors”, but only the “nuclear briefcase” in the hands of the President is active. Therefore, Biden can be given an inactive “nuclear briefcase” before commencement of the Presidential handover ceremony. After he is sworn in as President of the United States, a military aide will activate this “nuclear briefcase”, and at the same time the “nuclear briefcase” in Trump’s possession will be invalidated. Thus the control of the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenal will be transferred duly.