The new prime minister of Britain, Theresa May, told Parliament on Monday she would not hesitate to kill hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children with a thermonuclear weapon.

“Are you prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that could kill hundreds of thousands of men, women and children?” Scottish National Party MP George Kerevan asked May during debate on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons program.

“Yes,” the prime minister bluntly replied.

Previous prime ministers have avoided answering the question. Former Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe said the question should never be answered directly by a prime minister.

It is difficult to imagine a scenario requiring the use of nuclear weapons. The United States, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel have nuclear stockpiles. Russia and the US have 93 percent of all nuclear weapons. The United States is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killed around 200,000 civilians.

North Korea is said to have between 10 and 100 nuclear bombs. In March, it claimed to have developed a nuclear bomb small enough to fit in a warhead, but this claim is in doubt. Pyongyang made the announcement on the second day of annual spring exercises between South Korean and U.S. Forces, an event that invariably results in saber rattling by the communist state.

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