On April 26, FCNL and partner organizations sent letters to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) calling on them to co-sponsor H.R. 921 and S.272, which would make it U.S. policy to not use nuclear weapons first.
Dear Speaker Pelosi/Senator Schumer,
We the undersigned call on you to cosponsor H.R.921, Rep. Adam Smith’ bill/S.272, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bill that would make it the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.
We live in a time of great uncertainty and danger, with a looming U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race, the imminent collapse of the INF Treaty, the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, stalled negotiations with North Korea, and doubts about the future of New START. Congress can reduce the risk of nuclear use by sending a clear message to the rest of the world: the United States will not use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances.
In early 2017, then-Vice President Biden declared that he and President Obama had reached the same conclusion:
“Given our non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today’s threats, it’s hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary. Or make sense. President Obama and I are confident we can deter—and defend ourselves and our Allies against—non-nuclear threats through other means.”
Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry agrees, stating in January 2018:
“We should declare a no-first use policy in order to set a global standard for nuclear deterrence and reinforce the axiom that a nuclear war can never be won and should not be fought.”
Gen. James Cartwright (USMC, ret.), former Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Director of U.S. Strategic Command, also agrees. In 2016, he wrote:
“[A No-First-Use policy] would reduce the risk of a first strike against us during global crises. Leaders of other countries would be calmed by the knowledge that the United States viewed its own weapons as deterrents to nuclear warfare, not as tools of aggression.”
If the United States used a nuclear weapon first, that would significantly increase the risk that the other country would strike back with its own nuclear weapons. Moreover, once started, a nuclear exchange may not stay limited, and the United States will have opened the door to a catastrophic nuclear attack—putting the U.S. public at great risk.
Now is the time for the United States to put an end to Cold War thinking by declaring it will not use nuclear weapons first, moving us all toward a safer, more secure future. Please cosponsor H.R.921/S.272.
Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Executive Director, Beyond the Bomb
President, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Executive Director, Council for a Livable World
President, Dallas Peace & Justice Center
Director, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists
Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Executive Director, Global Zero
Associate Policy Director, Indivisible
Policy Director, National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action
Executive Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico
Coordinator, Nuclear Watch South
Paul Kawika Martin
Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze)
President, Peace Corps Iran Association Board of Directors
Convener, The Peace Farm
Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund
Robert K. Musil
President & CEO, Rachel Carson Council
Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs
Senior Scientist & Co-Director, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
Nuclear Weapons Abolition Organizer, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
Director, Win Without War
Policy Director, Women’s Action for New Directions