Nuclear Experts Endorse Warren and Smith’s ‘No First Use Act’
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the “No First Use Act,” a bill that would commit the United States to never use nuclear weapons first and drastically reduce the risk of nuclear conflict overall.
In reaction to the announcement, Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“The top national security priority of the United States should be to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used — and today’s introduction of the No First Use Act is an important step in that direction. If adopted, this legislation would ensure that no American president, Republican or Democrat, can start a nuclear war.
“The risk that nuclear weapons will be used is the highest it’s been since the worst days of the Cold War. This is not opinion, but the shared analysis of most nuclear security experts globally, including the prestigious Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists who set the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight — the closest to disaster it has ever been. Adopting No First Use as law of the land is the best way to move us further from nuclear catastrophe. This policy would immediately lower the risk of nuclear war, strengthen global stability, and create new opportunities to pursue reductions in these catastrophic arsenals.
“Starting a nuclear war would never be in the national security interests of the United States. Even maintaining the option is inherently dangerous, and lowers the threshold to nuclear use: By reserving the right to launch a nuclear first strike, the United States increases pressure on other nations to preempt it and ‘go nuclear’ first — and that pressure can skyrocket in a crisis. The No First Use Act takes that kind of catastrophic miscalculation off the board.
“The first use of nuclear weapons is suicidal and should be abandoned. A president’s decision to launch a nuclear first strike would invite horrific retaliation against the American public. A recent study by Global Zero estimated that 30% of the total population of the top 145 biggest cities in the United States — 21 million Americans — would perish in a Russian nuclear counterattack. To put that in perspective, in the first 24 hours the U.S. death toll would be 50 times greater than all American casualties in World War II. It’s clear that nuclear war cannot be ‘won’ in any meaningful sense — and America must never start one.
“When examining the benefits of No First Use, it’s impossible to ignore the current president’s unabashed displays of ignorance, ballistic tendencies, and alarming fetish for nuclear weapons. The Trump administration has brought the need for this policy reform into focus. But the fact is that no president — no matter how smart, cool-headed, morally grounded, or not — should have the power to start a nuclear war. The No First Use Act is common-sense legislation under any administration that makes Americans, and the world, safer and more secure.
“The Global Zero movement applauds the leadership of Senator Warren and Chairman Smith and endorses the No First Use Act in the strongest possible terms.”
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Global Zero is the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is led by more than 300 eminent world leaders and backed by a half a million citizens worldwide. For more information, please visit www.globalzero.org.