A Democratic congressman and senator introduced a bill on Tuesday that would limit US President Donald Trump's ability to use nuclear weapons. The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 argues that the president should not be allowed to strike first with nuclear weapons without Congress having already declared war.

It cites that the constitution states only Congress can declare war and that "a first-use nuclear strike from the United States would constitute a major act of war". It therefore argues that a first nuclear strike without Congress declaring war would be a violation of the constitution.

The bill has been brought forward by two Democrats, Congressman Ted W Lieu of Los Angeles County and Senator Edward J Markey of Massachusetts, who have specifically stated that the bill is aimed at Trump.

"It is a frightening reality that the U.S. now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be 'unpredictable' with nuclear weapons, and as President-elect was making sweeping statements about U.S. nuclear policy over Twitter", Lieu said in a statement. "Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the U.S. would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon."

"Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival", Markey added. "Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, US policy provides him with that power.

"In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation. Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack."

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump prepares to sign three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC Ron Sachs/Getty Images