For Immediate Release
Elizabeth Heyd, 202-289-2424
New Report Recommends Nuclear Policy on the Path Toward Nuclear Disarmament
FAS and NRDC Chart Minimal Deterrent Nuclear Mission
WASHINGTON - In Prague, President Barack Obama called for a world without nuclear
weapons. Today, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and the
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report calling for
fundamental changes to U.S. nuclear war planning, a vital prerequisite
if smaller nuclear arsenals are to be achieved.
Counterforce to Minimal Deterrence -- A New Nuclear Policy on the Path
Toward Eliminating Nuclear Weapons" calls to abandon the almost
five-decade-long central mission for U.S. nuclear forces, which has
been and continues to be "counterforce," the capability for U.S. forces
to destroy an enemy's military forces, its weapons, its command and
control facilities and its key leaders.
rationale for maintaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons no longer
exists." said Ivan Oelrich, vice president of the Strategic Security
Program at FAS and one of the report authors. "And to get future
reductions in the number of weapons, we have to eliminate the missions
they are assigned."
The nuclear mission flows from
directives and guidance given by the president, through the Secretary
of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Strategic Command where
it is implemented into elaborate war plans. The report calls for
eliminating all but one mission for nuclear forces.
Obama has already taken the first step by stating America's commitment
to a world without nuclear weapons," said Robert S. Norris, senior
research associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council and
report co-author. "We present the radical changes needed in U.S.
policies to make disarmament a reality."
mission is deterrence, narrowly defined, to mean the certain capability
to retaliate if any nation was unwise enough to use nuclear weapons
against the United States or certain allies.
minimal deterrence, all requirements for war planners to achieve an
advantage in a nuclear exchange or limit damage to ourselves will
disappear, leaving only in place the most basic mission of a sure
retaliatory response," said Hans Kristensen, director of the FAS
Nuclear Information Project and report co-author.
The report makes these main points:
nuclear doctrine is an artifact of the Cold War that needs to be
fundamentally altered. The counterforce mission, and all that goes with
it, should be explicitly and publicly abandoned and replaced with a
much less ambitious and qualitatively different doctrine.
- A minimal deterrence mission should be adopted as a transitional step on a path to zero nuclear weapons.
President must be continuously engaged in this transformation with
specific and direct instructions to the national security
bureaucracies. Otherwise, presidential intentions can be co-opted and
- Once formulated the President should publicly announce the changed role for nuclear weapons and the new types of targets.
American leadership the process should lead to engagement with the
other nuclear powers towards a global goal of abolition.
new strategy can be carried out with weapons in the current arsenal. No
new weapons need to be built nor an extensive new complex created.
To learn more about the report, please visit: http://www.fas.org.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.