Biden’s review of nuclear posture must reduce role of nuclear weapons – global problem

A dormant Minitman II missile in its silo. Credit: US National Park Service
  • Feedback By Daryl G. Kimball (Washington DC)
  • Inter Press Service

President Joe Biden has clearly acknowledged the problem and the value of diplomacy and nuclear restraint. Its interim national security strategic directive states that its administration will “take steps to re-establish credibility as a leader in arms control” and “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security strategies.”

In February, Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to extend the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New Start) and to discuss nuclear limits.

But it remains to be seen whether Biden’s recently launched Nuclear Possession Review (NPR) will make a meaningful adjustment to his legacy of the dangerous Cold War-era nuclear policy and costly nuclear modernization program. Earlier this year, Biden squandered the opportunity to make a meaningful return to his predecessor’s inflated $ 44 billion annual nuclear budget.

Forward, Biden needs to play a more direct role in the NPR to ensure that it reflects his priorities and does not strengthen dangerous dominance over nuclear weapons and increase global nuclear competition.

As I and other experts suggested in a recent letter to the White House, the President should make significant changes in a number of important areas.

First, the NPR should include a declarative policy that significantly narrows the role of nuclear weapons, in line with Biden’s stated views. In 2020, he wrote, “I believe that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be to prevent – and, if necessary, retaliate against, a nuclear attack. As President, I will work to make that belief a reality.”

A “sole purpose” policy that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons against the United States or its allies or enhances strategic stability in response to non-nuclear attacks on the United States or its allies, reduces the risk of nuclear war, and helps implement this policy in July. Agree that “a nuclear war cannot be won and can never be fought.” The more options there are for using nuclear weapons, the more likely they are to be used.

Second, the NPR should reconsider the old targeting requirements that are used to determine how many nuclear weapons are “sufficient.” While Russia is modernizing its arsenal and China is rapidly increasing its small strategic retaliatory power, including the ability to avoid U.S. missile defenses, the current U.S. nuclear arsenal is far more than what is needed and will be to prevent a nuclear attack.

In 2011, President Barack Obama announced that no matter what Russia did, the United States could reduce its deployment of nuclear weapons by one-third below the new start level, with about 1,000 deployed. Such reductions are still pending.

Contrary to the Cold War argument of U.S. strategic command, having more bombs and more delivery options does not translate into more effective resistance. It could fuel the arms race and wasted funds needed to meet higher priority protection needs.

The worrying reality is that the United States will need hundreds of strategic nuclear weapons to destroy Russian and Chinese military capabilities, kill millions of innocent people, and wreak havoc on the planet.

By signaling that the United States wants a smaller, more appropriate-sized nuclear power, Biden could help ease tensions, shed light on other nuclear-armed states that are expanding their weapons, and more credibly claim that the United States is fulfilling its responsibility for nuclear non-proliferation. Agreement.

Third, Biden’s NPR should examine options to reduce the size and scope of the U.S. nuclear modernization plan and implement the “no new nuclear weapons” policy, which he said he would support during his presidential election.

He should reverse the decisions made by the Trump administration to build a new low-yield W76-2 warhead variant and a new nuclear sea-launched cruise missile. These weapons reduce the limits of nuclear use and invite miscalculations in the crisis. New warhead projects such as the W93 for submarine-based missiles in the United States and the United Kingdom are also unnecessary and costly and should be discontinued.

In his inaugural address to the UN, Biden said, “Stand at a confusing time in history.” He is right. The steps that world leaders take over the next decade are crucial to whether we address the broader global threats and challenges, including the threat of nuclear war. Biden will have to play his part by reducing the efficiency of nuclear weapons and implementing policies to move towards new weapons competition.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal Source: Inter Press Service

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