Current U.S. Policy
Concerned about the current nuclear policies we have?
Restricting First Use
Under current U.S. policy, the President has sole authority to order the launch of a first strike nuclear weapons attack. The President is also not required to consult with anyone in the government or military before making such an order.
These bills are still seeking co-sponsors.
This bill prohibits the President from conducting a first-use nuclear strike unless Congress declares war and authorizes such a 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.
View this fact sheet on S.200
The United States has no official “no-first-use” policy for nuclear weapons, meaning that it still retains the option of using nuclear weapons in a preemptive or preventative attack, or in response to a non-nuclear attack.
HR.4415 - To establish the policy of the United States regarding the no-first-use of nuclear weapons.
This bill is still seeking co-sponsors.
Language of the bill: "It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first."
Diplomacy in North Korea
The U.S. and North Korea are currently engaged in negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. However, the U.S. has said many times that they may turn to military options if negotiations fail. Military action could lead to a catastrophic nuclear war, possibly killing millions of people.
S.2047 - Preventing Preemptive War in North Korea Act of 2017
This bill is still seeking co-sponsors.
No funds may be used for kinetic military operations in North Korea absent an imminent threat to the United States without express congressional authorization.
Currently, the S.2016 and HR.4837 bills are still seeking co-sponsors.
No Department of Defense funds, or funds from any other Federal department or agency, may be used to launch a military strike against North Korea or otherwise introduce the Armed Forces into hostilities in North Korea unless Congress declares war or otherwise authorizes military force.
$1.7 Trillion for Modernization
The New START (Strategic Arms) Treaty, signed by Russia and the United States in 2010, has paved the way for nuclear weapons modernization and a new arms race. While the New START Treaty outlines a goal of reducing the total number of nuclear weapons, it also allows for “modernization” of the current stockpile. The current budget requests would allow the US to maintain the nuclear arsenal at essentially the same size as 2010 New START levels.
What Are the 30-Year Costs of Planned Nuclear Forces?
CBO projects that the 2017 plan for nuclear forces would cost a total of $1.2 trillion (1.7 trillion with inflation) from 2017 to 2046. Of that amount:
- $772 billion would be allocated for the operation, sustainment, and modernization of strategic nuclear delivery systems and weapons—the long-range aircraft, missiles, and submarines that launch nuclear weapons; the nuclear weapons they carry; and the nuclear reactors that power the submarines.
- $25 billion would be allocated for the operation, sustainment, and modernization of tactical nuclear delivery systems—the aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons over shorter ranges—and the weapons they carry.
- $445 billion would be allocated for the complex of laboratories and production facilities that support nuclear weapons activities and the command, control, communications, and early-warning systems that enable the safe and secure operation of nuclear forces.
Read more from the Congressional Budget Office
2018 Nuclear Posture Review
Each new Presidential administration declares their nuclear weapons policies in a Nuclear Posture Review.
The 2018 NPR claims: "The United States remains committed to its efforts in support of the ultimate global elimination of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.... Nevertheless, global threat conditions have worsened markedly since the most recent 2010 NPR, including increasingly explicit nuclear threats from potential adversaries. The United States now faces a more diverse and advanced nuclear-threat environment than ever before..."
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the 2018 NPR includes:
- Broader scenarios under which the United States would use nuclear weapons first, thus lowering the threshold for first use.
- The replacement of some of the warheads on its submarine-launched Trident ballistic missiles with destabilizing “low-yield” versions.
- Claims that the United States “continues to abide by its obligations” under the NPT. In reality the 2018 NPR ignores the US obligation to take effective measures toward nuclear disarmament.
- The tighter integration of US nuclear and conventional forces, so US forces can fight “in the face of adversary nuclear threats and employment.”
Read the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)
Read more of the Union of Concerned Scientists' analysis on the 2018 NPR