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Changing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

Reducing the role that nuclear weapons play in U.S. security policies would significantly enhance national security.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal needs reducing

In today's world, nuclear weapons make the United States less safe, not safer. Despite this, the United States maintains over 4,500 nuclear weapons, many on hair-trigger alert.

Step-by-step, managed reductions of U.S. nuclear weapons would benefit U.S. security by reducing the risk of accidents and theft, and by facilitating reductions in nuclear stockpiles abroad.

The United States should also cancel costly new nuclear weapons programs, focusing instead on refurbishing existing weapons.

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Our nuclear weapons policies need realigning

Since the end of the Cold War, the strategic value of U.S. nuclear weapons has fallen, while new threats—such as emerging states and terrorism—have become pressing modern issues.

The United States should adopt a “sole use” nuclear weapons policy, meaning the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter, and if necessary respond to, a nuclear attack on the United States or its allies.

The United States should also remove rapid-launch options, and eliminate preset targeting plans.

Doing so would reduce the risk of accidents, while providing an improved political foundation for pursuing stockpile reductions abroad.

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U.S. nuclear weapons should be better managed

Maintaining a safe and secure nuclear arsenal while laying the groundwork for future reductions takes smart, forward-thinking policies.

To ensure we’re managing nuclear weapons as safely and affordably as possible, the United States should prioritize nuclear weapon surveillance, minimize plutonium and highly enriched uranium stockpiles, and ramp up research on nuclear reductions.

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