This Silent Moment During the Inauguration Is Actually Hugely Important

January 19th 2017

President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday will be the official start to his four-year term, and it also marks the moment his administration will take possession of a very special bag. 

donald-trumpAP/Evan Vucci - apimages.com

During the inauguration, a military aide with a briefcase (commonly called the "nuclear football") will walk behind President Barack Obama. The official name of this "nuclear football" is the Presidential Emergency Satchel, and inside it is "the biscuit," or the actual piece of technology that can transmit the launch codes need to send off a nuclear bomb, according to BBC News.

After Trump takes the presidential oath, the "nuclear football" will start following him. 

What does a president have to do to launch a nuclear weapon? 

The "nuclear football."AP Images/Cliff Owen - apimages.com

There is actually no nuclear button inside the briefcase. Instead, Trump will find a list of codes inside a black book, and an authentication card he must use to confirm his identity, according to former White House Military Office Director Bill Gulley's book, "Breaking Cover." There is also a list of shelter options and a guide to the Emergency Broadcast System. 

"It contains the equipment and the decision-making papers that the president would need to make a very quick decision," Pete Metzger, a former carrier of the Presidential Emergency Satchel for President Ronald Reagan, told CNN in August. 

The "nuclear football." AP Images/Ron Edmonds - apimages.com

Once the decision is made to launch a nuclear weapon two military officers, who are required by law to agree they have a confirmed order, actually carry out the launch. 

However, no one has to agree with the president before he or she gives the order. 

"The president has supreme authority to decide whether to use America's nuclear weapons. Period. Full stop," Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association told CNN. 

RELATED: These Members of Congress Refuse to Attend Trump's Inauguration

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