Nuclear Weapon No-First-Use Policy

On January 24th, 2017 Senator J. Markey (D-mass) and Congressman Ted W. Lieu (CA-33) introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 to the House and Senate.  The bill is titled H.R.669 in the House and S.200 in the Senate.  The bill has 15 co-sponsors in the House but no cosponsors in the Senate.

A summary from the House  of Representatives states, “This bill prohibits the President from using the Armed Forces to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a congressional declaration of war expressly authorizing such strike.”

“First-use nuclear strike” means a nuclear weapons attack against an enemy that is conducted without the President determining that the enemy has first launched a nuclear strike against the United States or a U.S. ally.

 

History

No-First-Use (NFU) is a policy that first applied to Biological and Chemical warfare, and now also refers to nuclear warfare.  A country that adopts a no-first-use policy pledges to never use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by another country with nuclear weapons.  China became the first nuclear country to declare an NFU policy in 1964.

NFU policies are important to prevent the rash and unnecessary use of nuclear weapons.  If every nuclear country declared and abided by a NFU policy then the threat of nuclear war would effectively be eliminated.

Links:

Global Zero: The Case for No-First-Use

Scott D. Sagan on No-First-Use

Text of Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017

Letter from Representatives Lee, Ellison, and Grijalva