Ernest J. Moniz
Co-Chair and Chief Executive Officer, NTI
“There is no more consequential decision for a President than ordering a nuclear strike. 76 years after President Harry S. Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons to end World War II, the final decision to use a U.S. nuclear weapon remains in the president’s hands alone.
“Executive Branch policies regarding the potential use of a nuclear weapon should be strengthened to put guardrails around the president’s “sole authority” to order the use of nuclear weapons. Clear presidential guidance that sets out a process by which the president will receive thorough and timely advice to inform that decision should be a top priority of the Biden administration.
“The core of this new guidance should be that any order by the president to use a nuclear weapon when the decision-making time allows shall involve consultation with specified officials in the Executive Branch and Congress. Such guidance could be written so as not to call in to question either Executive or Legislative Branch powers or authorities and could be reinforced in legislation. While drafting such a law, Congress could conduct a careful review of the severe erosion of its constitutional responsibility to declare war—and investigate how the War Powers Act has practically ceased to function and might be remedied.
“Taking steps now that could increase confidence in the process for considering the use of nuclear weapons can substantially reduce nuclear risks while maintaining the security benefits of nuclear deterrence as long as nuclear weapons exist.”
For additional information:
The President and Nuclear Weapons: Authorities, Limits, and Process by Mary B. DeRosa and Ashley Nicolas
The President and Nuclear Weapons: Implications of Sole Authority in Today’s World by Ernest J. Moniz and Sam Nunn
CONTACT: Cathy Gwin, 202-270-5942, [email protected]
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on nuclear and biological threats.
Browne, Ischinger, Ivanov, and Nunn call on Western and Russian leaders to reduce the risk of a dangerous military confrontation by adopting measures outlined in a new report launched today by NTI.
NTI describes what to expect at NATO's upcoming 2012 Chicago Summit and why NATO countries should ensure Chicago lays the groundwork for future changes to NATO nuclear policy
NTI released a report addressing the security risks, credibility, financial and political costs of maintaining NATO’s current nuclear posture.