A top United States nuclear commander says he would resist President Donald Trump if he ordered an "illegal" launch of nuclear weapons.
- General John Hyten says he will provide advice to Mr Trump, who will tell him what to do
- "If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail," General Hyten says
- Pentagon has not responded to General Hyten's comments
Air Force General John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), told an audience at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada that he had given a lot of thought to what he would say if he received such an order.
"I think some people think we're stupid," he said in response to a question about such a scenario.
"We're not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?
As head of STRATCOM "I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do," he said in his remarks, seen in a video posted on the forum's Facebook page.
"And if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm going to say, 'Mr President, that's illegal'."
General Hyten said running through scenarios of how to react in the event of an illegal order was standard practice.
"If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life," he said.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on General Hyten's remarks.
His comments came after questions by US senators, including Mr Trump's fellow Republicans, about his authority to wage war, use nuclear weapons and enter into or end international agreements, amid concern that tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs could lead to hostilities.
Mr Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and threatened in his maiden United Nations address to "totally destroy" the country of 26 million people if it threatened the US.
Some senators want legislation to alter the nuclear authority of Mr Trump and a Senate committee on Tuesday held the first congressional hearing in more than four decades on the president's authority to launch a nuclear strike.
In 1996, the International Court of Justice advised that the use of nuclear weapons was illegal but said it could not "conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake."