Joe Biden's military aide seen carrying US 'nuclear football' during UK visit
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It's a seemingly innocuous accessory which could bring about the end of the world as we know it.
No, it's not the latest Met Gala look, but a bag which has accompanied US president Joe Biden on his recent visit to the UK. The bag is often seen close to the president, usually carried by a military aide.
It is of course, the infamous 'nuclear football'. Inside the titanium suitcase is a remote system which would allow the US president to order a nuclear strike should that ever become necessary.
It has to be close to the president in order to maintain the chain of command, as only the president can order such a strike, or the vice president in the event that the president cannot if they are incapacitated or dead.
On this occasion, the case was carried by one of five military aides who accompanied President Biden on his trip to the UK. This included representatives of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
Every president since Dwight D Eisenhower in the 1950s has carried the ominous device close to them, as the need to be able to react speedily in a potential confrontation is paramount.
In the event that the US was attacked with nuclear missiles, the president would have approximately15 minutes to respond to the attack. This requires that the means to give orders in such a situation have to be in close proximity to the president at all times.
In the event that such dire circumstances did indeed arise, the president would use the nuclear football to confirm his identity using a secure phone line. He would do this by reading numbers from Sealed Authenticator System card, which the president and vice president carry with them at all times.
Once his identity has been confirmed, the president would be briefed on the nature and scale of the threat and the possible options on how to respond, including making the decision to order a nuclear strike.
Things are a little different in the UK, which has the Trident Submarine systems. These vessels are designed to remain at sea for extended periods of time.
They can launch their arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles both from on the surface and underneath the water.
The Prime Minister of the UK writes a letter containing orders should the UK be targeted by a nuclear strike. In such an event, the captain of the submarine is instructed to open a safe containing the letter and carry out the orders contained inside.