According to our constitutional system, only the President of the United States has the authority to release nuclear weapons for combat operations. Despite the fact that he must take into consideration domestic politics and foreign opinion, he is still, to all intents and purposes, a free agent in making this decision.
Lynch, Hugh F.
"Presidential Control of Nuclear Weapons in Limited War Situations,"
Naval War College Review: Vol. 24
, Article 12.
Available at: http://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/nwc-review/vol24/iss2/12