January 30, 2019

‘No-First-Use’ Bills Introduced Today Would Strengthen US Security, Lessen Risk of Nuclear War

Statement by Stephen Young, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (January 30, 2019)—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today introduced identical bills in the Senate and House requiring the United States to pledge that it would not be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon, regardless of the circumstances.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), adopting such a policy would reduce the risk of miscalculation during a crisis with Russia, China or North Korea; strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by demonstrating the United States is serious about reducing the role of nuclear weapons in its security policy; and reduce to risks associated with the president’s sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons by removing the option of using them first.

Below is a statement by Stephen Young, Washington representative for the UCS Global Security Program:

“It’s long past time to update US nuclear policy for the 21st century. Adopting this proposed ‘no-first-use’ policy would strengthen US security by reducing the risk of nuclear war. Ending US ‘first-use’ policy is the first step among many that should be taken to make global nuclear catastrophe less likely.

“The United States doesn’t need to start a nuclear war, and it never should. In fact, we know with some confidence that the US military has no plans to use nuclear weapons first. Why? Because the most likely result would be a nuclear counterattack against the United States. The purpose of US nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack on the United States and its allies. Any other purpose simply makes nuclear war more likely.

“Ending the United States’ first-use policy would make everyone safer. Congress should pass this legislation.” 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.