January 30, 2019

Senator Warren, Chairman Smith Unveil Legislation to Establish "No-First-Use" Nuclear Weapons Policy

Bill Text (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today introduced the bicameral No First Use Act, to establish in law that it is the policy of the United States not to use nuclear weapons first.  

Today the United States explicitly retains the option to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict, even in response to a non-nuclear attack. The No First Use Act would codify what most Americans already believe: that the United States should never initiate a nuclear war.

"Our current nuclear strategy is not just outdated--it is dangerous," said the lawmakers in a joint statement. "By making clear that deterrence is the sole purpose of our arsenal, this bill would reduce the chances of a nuclear miscalculation and help us maintain our moral and diplomatic leadership in the world."

The No First Use Act would strengthen U.S. national security by:

  • Reducing the risk of a nuclear miscalculation by an adversary during a crisis
  • Strengthening our deterrence and increasing strategic stability by clarifying our declaratory policy
  • Preserving the U.S. second-strike capability to retaliate against any nuclear attack on the U.S. or its allies

Senator Warren called for a No First Use policy last year, during a November 2018 speech in which she laid out her vision for a progressive foreign policy.

She has been a leader in Congress fighting to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles around the world and reform the policies governing their use. She:

  • Introduced the bipartisan Upholding America's Nuclear Commitments Act of 2017 with Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) to restrict the development of a new nuclear-capable intermediate-range missile, which if deployed would violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.
  • Together with Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, offered an amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that Congress continues to have an oversight role in authorizing the development of new or modified nuclear weapons.
    • The Senator discussed the importance of this amendment in a June 2018 speech on the Senate floor.
  • Led 26 of her Senate colleagues in reiterating support for continued arms control negotiations following the Trump Administration's decision to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty.
  • Co-sponsored the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, a bill to require congressional authorization or a declaration of war before a nuclear strike could be launched.
  • Introduced the Prevention of Arms Race Act of 2018 with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) to prohibit funding for missiles in violation of the INF Treaty and to stop the United States from entering into a 21st Century nuclear arms race.
  • Led 15 of her Senate colleagues in urging President Trump to reconsider his Nuclear Posture Review policies to develop new nuclear weapons and lower the threshold for their use.