Just weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden warned that Russia’s assault on Ukraine has dramatically raised the risk of “Armageddon,” his administration released a Nuclear Posture Review that nonproliferation advocates say does nothing to pull the world back from the brink of global catastrophe.
The document makes clear that the country will move ahead with dangerous and costly modernization plans — and leaves intact the option of a nuclear first strike.
The leading threats, according to the posture review, are Russia and China, which the Pentagon document characterizes as “major and growing” nuclear dangers to the U.S. and its allies.
The review makes clear that U.S. officials considered and rejected “no first use” and “sole purpose” policies that would bar the U.S. from launching a preemptive nuclear strike or using an atomic weapon in response to a non-nuclear attack. The document claims such policies “would result in an unacceptable level of risk.”
That position conflicts with Biden’s statement during the 2020 presidential campaign that “the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and, if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack.”
Stephen Young, senior Washington representative at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is “a terrifying document” that “not only keeps the world on a path of increasing nuclear risk, in many ways it increases that risk.”
“Yes, the world is becoming a more dangerous place, but the only military threat to the survival of the United States is a nuclear war with Russia or China,” he continued. “Rather than recognizing that threat and seeking to find ways to end it, the Biden NPR doubles down on nuclear deterrence and the status quo approach to security that says we all must be prepared to die in less than an hour.”
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