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NTI Experts Outline U.S. Nuclear Policies for a Safer World

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New papers outline recommendations for changes to U.S. nuclear policy and posture and engagement with Russia and China

Washington, D.C. – As President Biden arrives in Europe for key meetings with the G7, NATO, the European Union, and President Putin, NTI today is releasing U.S. Nuclear Policies for a Safer World. The set of papers, offered just as the administration begins its review of U.S. nuclear policies, posture and arms control, recommends changes to U.S. nuclear policy and posture, reengagement with Russia on strategic stability and arms control, dialogue and risk reduction efforts with China, and recommitment to multilateral efforts to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime.

NTI co-chairs Ernest J. Moniz and Sam Nunn urge the Biden administration to lead efforts to reduce growing nuclear risks. “The risk of use of a nuclear weapon is higher today than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis,” they write in an introduction to the papers. “Reducing these risks will require U.S. leadership and renewed commitment to diplomacy and engagement, bold and creative policy choices, and unwavering focus.”

Among other steps, Moniz and Nunn call for the establishment of a bipartisan liaison group between Congress and the administration. The purpose of this group would be to rebuild consensus supporting engagement and arms control as essential tools to reduce nuclear risks and advance U.S. national security. They also call for establishment of new policy guardrails to ensure that any decision to use nuclear weapons would be deliberative and based on appropriate planning and consultation, including with leaders in Congress.

In the accompanying papers, NTI experts Steve Andreasen, Lynn Rusten, Mark Melamed, and James McKeon make further recommendations.

On U.S. nuclear policy and posture to reduce the risk of use of nuclear weapons:

  • Increase the amount of time available to leaders during a crisis to decide whether or not to use a nuclear weapon
  • Narrow the range of scenarios in which the United States would consider the use of nuclear weapons, including by declaring that deterring a nuclear attack against the United States and its allies and partners is the “sole purpose” of U.S. nuclear weapons.

On reengagement with Russia on nuclear arms control and the full range of issues that affect strategic stability between the two sides:

  • Negotiate a successor to the New START treaty that further limits the strategic systems of both sides
  • Take steps to address other nuclear capabilities, including intermediate-range systems and non-strategic nuclear weapons
  • Address concerns of both sides about other capabilities including missile defenses and the potential strategic impact of new and emerging technologies.

On dialogue and risk-reduction efforts with China:

  • Pursue greater engagement with Beijing on nuclear and strategic issues
  • Engage in regular bilateral dialogue on key issues—including regional factors that impact each side’s security—and seek to reduce the risk of use of nuclear weapons due to unintended escalation by improving transparency and undertaking confidence-building measures.

On strengthening the global nonproliferation regime:

  • Restore U.S. leadership of multilateral efforts to reduce nuclear risks, in particular by working to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Other NTI resources related to the Administration's meetings in Europe include our Atomic Pulse blog post on What is "Strategic Stability" and Why is it Important to U.S.-Russia Relations?, a virtual panel with NTI leaders and other experts on Recommendations to the U.S., Europe, and Russia, and the Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group (EASLG) statement on Advancing Strategic Stability in the Euro-Atlantic Region.

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About the Nuclear Threat Initiative

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a nonprofit global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and biological threats imperiling humanity.

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