Watch: Liz Truss says she's "ready" to push the nuclear button
Liz Truss has said she would be "ready" to use the UK's nuclear arsenal if she was to become prime minister.
The Tory leadership frontrunner said she would be willing to press the nuclear button, even if it meant "global annihilation".
Speaking at a hustings event in Birmingham, Truss spoke with Times Radio host John Pienaar, who said it would make him feel "physically sick" if he was faced with the decision.
Truss said the duty was an "important duty of the prime minister", and received a round of applause after saying she would have no problem ordering the use of the UK's nuclear arsenal if necessary.
Pienaar told her: "One of the first things that will happen when and if you become prime minister, you'll be ushered into a room, a very private room at Number 10, and there will be laid out in front of you what are called the letters of last resort.
"Your orders to our Trident boat captain on whether you, prime minister Liz Truss, is giving the order to unleash nuclear weapons.
"It would mean global annihilation. I won't ask you if you would press the button, you'll say yes, but faced with that task I would feel physically sick."
"How does that thought make you feel?"
Truss replied without emotion: "I think it's an important duty of the prime minister and I'm ready to do that."
Pressed on how it would make her feel, she said: "I'm ready to do that."
The UK has been a nuclear weapon state since 1952, and is one of five officially recognised nuclear states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Currently the UK possesses 225 nuclear warheads, and operates a continuous at-sea deterrence programme.
The threat of nuclear war has been rising since Vladimir Putin attempted to invade Ukraine in February, heightening tensions among neighbouring Nato member states.
Earlier this year, the Kremlin said Russia had been placed on nuclear alert after “unacceptable” comments by Truss.
It was not made clear what comments exactly Kremlin officials had taken offence to.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the time: “Statements by various representatives at various levels about possible conflict situations and even collisions and clashes between Nato and the Russian Federation.
"We consider such statements absolutely unacceptable.
“I will not name the authors of these statements, although it was the British foreign secretary."