Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Statement on Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Katie Mounts, Director of Communications and External Relations

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Statement on Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review

WASHINGTON - One year ago in Prague, President Obama pledged that the Nuclear
Posture Review “will put an end to Cold War thinking” and “reduce the
role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.”

The Review, which was released today after nearly a year of analysis,
outlines many important and valuable steps that the U.S. will take
toward that end. While the Review could have been bolder in some areas,
it constructively reorients U.S. nuclear policy to reflect the fact that
changing technologic, strategic, and geopolitical circumstances have
made it possible and essential for the U.S. to reduce its reliance on
nuclear weapons.

Overall, the Nuclear Posture Review is a significant improvement over
the two previous Nuclear Posture Reviews conducted since the end of the
Cold War. The encouraging steps outlined in the report should not be
viewed as the end of the journey toward reducing the dangers posed by
nuclear weapons, but they point us in the right direction.

On the positive side, the Nuclear Posture Review places preventing
nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism atop the U.S. nuclear
agenda. It also significantly reduces the role of nuclear weapons in
U.S. national security by stating that the “fundamental” role of nuclear
weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the U.S. and its allies and
limiting the circumstances under which the U.S. would contemplate using
nuclear weapons. Both of these measures will be helpful in strengthening
the U.S. hand at the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review
Conference in May. Furthermore, the Review reaffirms that the U.S. will
not conduct nuclear explosive tests and rejects the development of new
nuclear weapons. The Review also supports further discussions with
Moscow on even deeper bilateral reductions in U.S. and Russian arsenals –
including non-deployed and non-strategic (i.e. tactical nuclear
weapons) – beyond those called for in the New START agreement.

Though the positives significantly outweigh the negatives, the report
stops short of saying that the “sole” purpose of nuclear weapons is to
deter nuclear attack on the U.S. and its allies nor does it call for the
U.S. to adopt a “no first use” policy. The U.S. does not need nuclear
weapons for any other purpose but deterrence. A “sole purpose” and “no
first use” declaration would have further strengthened the credibility
of the U.S. conventional deterrent and reduced the incentives that other
states might have to acquire nuclear weapons to protect themselves from
a U.S. first strike.

The Review also does not recommend that the U.S. abandon its current
launch on warning or launch under attack posture. Maintaining such a
posture increases the chances of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear
launch.

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The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to enhancing international peace and security in the 21st century. The Center is funded by grants from private foundations and the generosity of thousands of individual donors.

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