House Democrats Urge No-First-Use Policy

Twenty-two Democratic members of the House of Representatives, led by Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), sent a letter to President Barack Obama last week urging him to adopt a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons. “We are troubled by the current US and Russian launch-under-attack postures, which significantly increase the risk of catastrophic miscalculation and full-scale nuclear war,” the letter reads. The letter seeks to alleviate the concerns of Japan, South Korea, and NATO by assuring allies that “the United States has and will retain overwhelming conventional land, sea, and air forces to counter any non-nuclear attack.” Among the advantages of a no-first-use policy, the letter mentions cost savings that could emerge from “minimizing the need for ‘first strike’ weapons,” such as intercontinental ballistic missiles. Senators sent a similar letter to Obama over the summer, and bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate in late September that would restrict first use of nuclear weapons. Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated at the time that, in the interest of defending its allies, the US military would not adopt such a policy.