Sorry, we can’t actually give you the nuclear codes, but did you know they used to be 00000000?
For 15 years during the Cold War, the code used to prevent an unauthorized launch of U.S. nuclear missiles was eight zeros: 00000000. It wasn’t until Bruce Blair, a former Minuteman missile launch control officer, alerted his superiors and members of Congress to the dangers of maintaining the not-so-secret codes that the Air Force finally reprogrammed them. When you take into account the amount of destruction a single nuclear weapon can cause, these codes represent a terrifying reality.
The U.S. nuclear launch process remains unnecessarily dangerous. The President has total, unchecked authority to order a nuclear strike. No one — not Congress, not the secretary of defense, not the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — can veto the president’s decision.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Adopting a No-First-Use policy — wherein the United States would commit to never use or threaten to use nuclear weapons first — would remove the biggest opportunity for a president to jumpstart nuclear war with a single bad call. It would draw a clear line, precipitate additional policy and force changes to increase presidential decision time, and reduce the risk of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation. At Global Zero, we are mobilizing to support No First Use, and we need your help! Afterall, there are no winners in a nuclear war.
Reasons why adopting a No First Use Policy is more important than ever:
No First Use puts the people and the planet first
Nuclear weapons harm innocent people, affecting civilians, local communities, and leaving side effects that generations are left to deal with. Today, the United States has nuclear weapons 20-30 times more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagaski. As we have seen across the planet, radiation causes increased rates of thyroid disease and cancer in survivors. The Hibakusha, downwinders, and Marshallese are only a few examples of this system of injustice.
No First Use reduces the exorbitant amount the US spends on nuclear weapons
In the last 75 years, the United States has wasted trillions of dollars on nuclear weapons. Adopting No First Use and eliminating first strike weapons like land-based nuclear missiles would save the U.S. billions, money that could actually protect people and communities by funding critical needs such as healthcare, education, the climate crises and more. Let this sink in: The U.S. spent about $70,000 on nuclear weapons every minute during the global pandemic in 2020.
Most importantly, No First Use reduces the risk of nuclear war
We have yet to see the consequences of a two-sided nuclear war, but a study showed that a “small” regional nuclear exchange with 100 nuclear weapons detonated would have catastrophic global consequences (the U.S. alone has 3,708 nuclear weapons). No First Use enhances transparency about the circumstances for nuclear weapon use, reducing the risk of use by miscalculation and unintentional escalation, and increasing U.S. and allied security.
It is easy to feel hopeless when talking about issues like a nuclear apocalypse, but there is hope.
We are the BombSquad, and we are building a grassroots movement to create a better and safer future. We need you to join us on the frontline for a better world, free of the threat of a nuclear war.
This movement is our movement. Let’s make history together and demand zero.