1. Background
  2. Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Weapons


There is that of God in every person. The faith of Quakers is built entirely on this foundation. Nothing is more fundamental to FCNL’s search for a world free from war and for a society with equity and justice for all.

With a flash of light in 1945, American scientists brought nuclear weapons into the world. FCNL has been working to eliminate these terrible weapons ever since.

This work has gained grave new urgency.

Bombing of Nagasaki.

Atomic bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945. Charles Levy / National Archives

Where We Are

The Trump administration is charting a dangerous nuclear course. Congress should change priorities, change budgets, and change our country’s direction.

The Trump administration seeks new types of nuclear weapons that aim to convince others the United States is ready to use these weapons. The last thing our country needs is to make it easier—for any president—to think about using nuclear weapons. Congress already approved construction of a new, so-called “low-yield” warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, but its actual deployment can and should be stopped.

The Trump administration is also proposing massive down payments on a $1.2 trillion, decades-long plan to extend, enhance, and expand America’s bloated, Cold War-holdover arsenal. In addition to dangerous new quick-strike cruise missiles, the United States is starting work on an entirely new silo-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Within moments of being warned of a possible nuclear attack, the president—and no one else—must decide whether the warning signs truly mean an attack is happening, and whether to launch those ICBMs or risk losing them. No one should have that decision. It is not enough to replace the president; our country should not replace those missiles.

President Trump has also walked away from the 1988 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—which banned an entire class of nuclear missiles—and his administration has said it will test missiles once barred by this treaty by autumn 2019. The Trump administration has also not been working to extend past the February 2021 expiration the New START Treaty, which caps U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear weapons and provides vital understanding and transparency between the two countries.

What Can We Do?

The only real answer is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. But as work continues toward that goal, Congress should take shorter term actions:

  • Block deployment of the new low-yield submarine-launched nuclear warhead;
  • Insist that the administration work to extend the New START Treaty and negotiate on reviving the INF Treaty;
  • Halt deployment of new quick-strike missiles, including ground-launched missiles previously banned under the INF treaty, and new air- and sea-launched nuclear-armed cruise missiles;
  • Pause work on a new, unnecessary ICBM; and

Make clear in law and policy that the United States will never use nuclear weapons first. Our faith insists that there is that of God in every person. Nuclear weapons’ unique capacity to destroy and kill have united humans in a profound new way. As President Kennedy said in 1961, “a nuclear disaster, spread by wind and water and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike.”

Our country must never go to sleep on the dangers nuclear weapons pose to us all, for nuclear weapons never, ever go to sleep on us.