Executive Director Tierney: Without No First Use, we have a thermonuclear monarchy

Executive Director John Tierney was asked to help introduce a bill by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) regarding No First Use policy. The full text of his remarks is below.


“The last time this bill was introduced, it was bipartisan in nature, and this one should be, too.

There are those who would argue that we should have a thermonuclear monarchy  that one individual, one executive, should be able to make the decision about whether or not we fire off nuclear weapons. That is not the way our founders structured our Constitution  they made very clear that an act of war would be initiated by Congress. I think this bill reiterates that very clearly, to make sure that people know that, yes, we always reserve to our executive the right to respond, if our allies, our forces or our country is attacked. But in terms of initiating a nuclear war, there is no legal, there is no military and there certainly is no moral basis for believing that that power ought to rest in one person  essentially a thermonuclear monarch.

This is why we stand behind it at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Working with our colleagues in other organizations, we’ll try to educate the public extensively so that they are aware that this bill is out there and it ought to be supported. Democrats and Republicans alike ought to be able to line up behind it, and it should be an issue in every district in Congress and every state in the country. It should be an issue in 2020 campaigns; it should be made part of everybody’s priority in legislation. And we look forward to working with you to make sure that is the case.”