CONTACT: Anna Schumann
(OCTOBER 27—WASHINGTON) Upon the release of the Biden administration’s long-awaited unclassified Nuclear Posture Review, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation releases the following statement by Executive Director and former Congressman John Tierney on behalf of the organization:
“While we are pleased that the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review takes some steps in the right direction when it comes to reducing nuclear risks and promoting global nuclear arms control, we are also disappointed that it does not go far enough toward reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing nuclear threats,” Tierney said.
“The United States’ Nuclear Posture Review is viewed worldwide as a signal of our positions on critical nuclear weapons policies, and the Biden administration missed clear opportunities to showcase leadership by setting a clear vision of how to lower risks amidst the highest global nuclear tensions since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nevertheless, we applaud the administration for completing the NPR during challenging times and appreciate its efforts to emphasize arms control, non-proliferation and risk reduction.”
TOPLINES AND PROGRAM-SPECIFIC QUOTES:
- WEAPONS RETIREMENT: Reverses plans for a low-yield nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N) and retires the Cold War-era B83: “The SLCM-N was rightly removed from U.S. ships decades ago and resurrecting the capability, as proposed by the Trump administration, would be redundant and dangerous, and detract from higher priorities and missions. The Navy shares the view that cancelling this missile and warhead were low-hanging fruit, and the Biden administration is right to shelve plans for this weapon with no strategic purpose; now Congress should follow suit.” –Monica Montgomery, Policy Analyst, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- DECLARATORY POLICY: States that the “fundamental role” — but not the sole purpose — of U.S. nuclear weapons is deterrence. “Declaring that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter — and, if necessary, respond to — a nuclear attack would have made clear that the United States never intends to use nuclear weapons first or in retaliation for other non-nuclear attacks and provided a marked contrast with those who are issuing nuclear threats almost daily. Instead, the Biden administration chose to leave an opening for nuclear weapons use in ‘extreme circumstances,’ which goes against the Democratic party’s platform in 2020 and misses an opportunity to articulate nuclear restraint and heighten the contrast with Putin’s reckless nuclear saber-rattling.” –Monica Montgomery, Policy Analyst, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- DIPLOMACY AND ARMS CONTROL: States an intent to develop a more expansive, transparent, and verifiable arms control infrastructure to succeed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), as well as to engage China on nuclear arms control, rebuild European security arrangements and strengthen non-proliferation mechanisms. “Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and reckless nuclear threats should be a wake-up call about the ongoing risk of nuclear war and underline the importance of risk reduction measures and renewed disarmament diplomacy. The Biden administration is right to declare its intentions to reduce global nuclear arsenals through arms control. The only way that global nuclear arsenals have been reduced in the 77 years since the dawn of the nuclear age is through verifiable constraints and mutual reductions, and it is time to bring China into this conversation as the only way to continue reducing nuclear stockpiles worldwide. Granted, this will not be easy, but the potential benefits make it well worth the effort.” –John Erath, Senior Policy Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- FUTURE OF THE TRIAD: Continues development and modernization of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). “We have for decades relied on a triad of land-, sea- and air-based nuclear weapons for deterrence. While this may have made sense in the past, this NPR should have been an opportunity to examine whether Cold War era strategies remain optimal. Specifically, reliance on intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are highly expensive and potentially vulnerable, should have been more seriously examined.” –Former Congressman John Tierney, Executive Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- MISSILE DEFENSE (from the Missile Defense Review): Continues support for existing U.S. homeland ballistic missile defense architecture.“While we appreciate the Biden administration’s assessment in the 2022 Missile Defense Review that Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) is not intended to nor capable of defeating sophisticated ballistic missile threats from Russia or China and its recognition of the interrelationship between offensive and defensive strategic systems, we are disappointed to see the continuation of a policy of spending billions of taxpayer dollars on deploying unproven technology that provides a false sense of security and contributes to arms racing and instability. In stating that the United States ‘will continue to rely on strategic deterrence – underwritten by a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal … to address and deter large intercontinental-range, nuclear missile threats to the homeland’ from Russia, China and North Korea, the statement is an implicit acknowledgment that the long-range missile defense largely based in Alaska, GMD, is unable to provide a consistent and reliable defense of continental United States.
The report exaggerates in stating that the GMD could possibly mitigate some effects from any attack, as the test record, GAO, and other statutorily mandated studies and experts repeatedly report that the system clearly has failed to offer evidence that this is so. Responsible physicists and other experts continue to call into doubt the system’s potential, and too little mention is made of the strategic grounds arguing against development.
The report should better distinguish missile defense targeting of ICBMs from protection against lower end challenges such as North Korea or an accidental launch.” –Former Congressman John Tierney, Executive Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Our goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear, biological and chemical threats through Congressional engagement and public outreach.