NTI Statement on the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) welcomes the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review’s (NPR) focus on reducing nuclear dangers using all the tools of national security, including diplomacy. Continued U.S. commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy and leadership to reduce the risk of use and the salience of nuclear weapons globally could not be more essential.

To ensure the security of the United States and its allies and reduce nuclear risks, the Biden administration’s NPR properly emphasizes diplomacy, dialogue, arms control, and nonproliferation, along with maintaining a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent. The administration’s approach recognizes these tools as integral parts of a comprehensive and balanced approach as long as nuclear weapons exist.

NTI applauds the administration’s plan to commission an independent review of the safety, security, and reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons and command-and-control and warning systems to reduce the chance of blunder or miscalculation, particularly from cyber threats. NTI has long championed this “nuclear failsafe” review, which was recently mandated by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.

The NPR reinforces a very high bar for the use of nuclear weapons by making clear that their fundamental role is to deter nuclear use by other countries and that the United States would only consider nuclear use in extreme circumstances. We support the decision to cease development of the destabilizing nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile and to retire the B83 gravity bomb, the last megaton-class weapon in the U.S. stockpile.

We are not convinced that the low yield W76-2 warhead on SLBMs is necessary to bolster regional deterrence and encourage the administration to revisit the rationale for this capability. Nor do forward-deployed nuclear weapons appreciably add to the military security of our allies. While now is not the time politically to reduce these U.S. weapons, the United States and our allies should remain open to and prepared for a change in force posture as we seek future negotiations with Russia to reduce its stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons. To further reduce catastrophic risks, we encourage the United States to work actively with allies to make deterrence of nuclear attacks against the United States and its allies and partners the sole purpose of nuclear weapons.

While we welcome the NPR’s recognition of the continuing threat from nuclear terrorism, we call for increased focus and priority on this persistent threat. We urge the Biden administration to recommit to the longstanding bipartisan consensus that preventing nuclear terrorism by strengthening security for nuclear weapons and weapons-useable materials is and remains a top national security priority.

The NPR reflects the critical importance of efforts to build strategic stability, avoid arms races, and facilitate risk reduction and arms control with Russia, China and other countries, even when relations are severely strained.

“The NPR sets the right course by emphasizing dialogue and diplomacy, aiming to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security strategy, and committing to the goal of nuclear disarmament, while ensuring a safe and reliable deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist,” said NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz. “Especially at this time of heightened risk, U.S. leadership is essential to reassure allies, reinforce the taboo against nuclear use, move the world away from reliance on nuclear weapons, and build new guardrails against nuclear competition, proliferation, and the risk of nuclear conflict.”

NTI Co-Founder and Co-Chair Sam Nunn stated: “I welcome the administration’s commitment in the NPR to reducing nuclear risks, particularly its plan to commission an independent nuclear ‘fail-safe review’ to strengthen safeguards against false warnings, blunders, mistakes or unintentional use of nuclear weapons. Cyber and other advanced technologies have increased these dangers. I also commend Chairman Smith and the House Armed Services Committee leadership for including the mandate for this review in the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act and Chairman Reed and the Senate Armed Services Committee leadership for supporting this critical initiative. It is essential that the review be independent, thorough, and yield meaningful recommendations for the president to enhance national and global security. Other states with nuclear weapons should conduct similar fail-safe reviews.”

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