As the Biden-Harris Administration begins a major review of US nuclear policy, Ploughshares Fund today releases a new interactive report recommending that President Biden focus the Nuclear Posture Review on one overarching goal: preventing accidental nuclear warfare.
The multimedia report, authored by Ploughshares Fund’s Roger L. Hale Fellow Doreen Horschig, PhD, argues that the risk of accidental nuclear war can be reduced by ending presidential sole authority, declaring sole purpose, and terminating launch-on warning.
“The Nuclear Posture Review gives President Biden a chance to bring his views on nuclear policy forward,” said Horschig. “He should use his executive authority to make a more progressive nuclear security agenda happen.”
Started by President Clinton, and continued by the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, the Nuclear Posture Review serves as the US government’s primary public statement of what the country’s nuclear weapons policy should be. Biden began his review of US nuclear posture this summer, and the report is expected to be released in early 2022.
“The Nuclear Posture Review is the most important part of US nuclear policy that you may have never heard of,” said Tom Collina, Ploughshares Fund director of policy. “President Biden has the authority to change key policies that would give the president more time to respond in a crisis and thus reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war, the most serious and underappreciated threat we face today.”
Horschig notes that while Democrats have tended to seek a narrowing of the declared role of nuclear weapons, Republicans have tended to expand the role by including deterrence of non-nuclear strategic attacks.
“Overall, there's been a great degree of continuity in US nuclear strategy, even as nuclear forces and force posture have evolved significantly over that period,” said Horschig. “We have had no review make a serious commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons. President Biden now has an opportunity to change that.”