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Democrats Propose 'No First Use' Policy For Nuclear Weapons

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Top Democrat legislators have introduced a bicameral Bill in the Congress to establish in law that it is the policy of the United States not to use nuclear weapons first.

Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced in their respective chambers the "No First Use Act," a legislation that would commit the United States to never use nuclear weapons first in case of an international conflict, that will help drastically reduce the risk of nuclear war overall.

Today, the United States explicitly retains the option to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict, even in response to a non-nuclear attack. The No First Use Act would codify what most Americans already believe—that the United States should never initiate a nuclear war, the influential lawmakers say.

"Our current nuclear strategy is not just outdated—it is dangerous," according to Warren and Smith. "By making clear that deterrence is the sole purpose of our arsenal, this bill would reduce the chances of a nuclear miscalculation and help us maintain our moral and diplomatic leadership in the world," they said in a joint statement.

They say The No First Use Act would strengthen U.S. national security by reducing the risk of a nuclear miscalculation by an adversary during a crisis, strengthening US deterrence and increasing strategic stability by clarifying its declaratory policy, and preserving the U.S. second-strike capability to retaliate against any nuclear attack on the U.S. or its allies.

Sen. Warren, who is a Democratic presidential hopeful, said she is proud to join with Adam Smith to introduce a bill that formalizes what most Americans already believe: the United States should never initiate a nuclear war.

Currently, it is the US President's sole discretion whether to unleash a nuclear weapon.

If adopted, this legislation would ensure that no American President, Republican or Democrat, can start a nuclear war.

But the chances are difficult in a divided Congress, where conservatives see it as limiting the US military's options on battle strategy.

And even if the Bill passes Congress, President Donald Trump, who has shown a determination to maintain US military advantage over its rivals, is likely to veto it.

Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, said the top national security priority of the United States should be to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used. The introduction of the No First Use Act is an important step in that direction, according to Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero.

A recent study by Global Zero estimated that 30 percent of the total population of the top 145 biggest cities in the United States, or 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.

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