US Retains Nuclear Weapons to ‘Preserve Peace And Stability’, Claims State Dep. Spokesman
12:21 GMT 04.01.2022 (Updated: 10:18 GMT 07.12.2022)
For the first time ever, all five nuclear weapon-wielding states party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty - United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia - affirmed in a joint statement on 3 January that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
As the five nuclear powers released a joint statement
on Monday saying their weapons were not aimed at one another, a State Department spokesperson underscored
that this aligns with the Joe Biden administration’s stance.
“We do not retain nuclear weapons to fight and win wars; we have them to preserve peace and stability in a world where others may try to use force, or at least the threat of it, especially threats of nuclear attack, to undermine the values, security, and sovereignty of the United States, and its allies and partners,” the spokesperson was cited by Politico’s NatSec Daily.
Russia, the United States, China, France and Britain "consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as [their] foremost responsibilities" and confirm that their nuclear weapons are not targeting one another, the five countries said in a joint statement published Monday.
, which appeared on the websites of the Kremlin and the White House, underscored the joint intention to “maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorised or unintended use of nuclear weapons”.
"We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons - for as long as they continue to exist - should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented," added the joint communique.
The five nations repeated their commitment to obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, underscoring a desire to "work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all".
12 December 2021, 14:21 GMT
Shifts in US Nuclear Policy ‘Less Likely’
This comes ahead of the US administration’s release of Washington’s nuclear posture review. The internal revision of numbers, kinds and purposes of weapons in the nuclear arsenal is anticipated to be made public sometime in January.
During Joe Biden’s tenure as Vice President under the Barack Obama administration, the White House stated in 2010 that it would “only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners”. It did not define “extreme circumstances”.
Later, under Donald Trump, it was specified that:
“Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks. Significant non-nuclear strategic attacks include, but are not limited to, attacks on the US, allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on US or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”
Nuclear Posture Review guidelines formulated during the 45th POTUS’ tenure allowed for nuclear weapons to be launched preemptively, even against conventional, non-nuclear armed adversaries.
Now, in an atmosphere of heightened global tensions - including fears of a conflict between Russia and NATO over Ukraine, and the US and China in the Indo-Pacific, analysts cited by AP deem it likely the Pentagon will retain the existing nuclear force “triad” of sea-, air-, and land-based weapons. Hopes that America might embrace the “no first use” pledge regarding nuclear weapons are also perceived as diminished.
Last summer, Colin Kahl, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the Biden administration, said the outlook for US nuclear policy was impacted not only by China’s nuclear ambitions but also by “real anxiety” over Russian defence and nuclear policy.
“And so, obviously Russia is the wolf closest to the shed as it relates to the nuclear issue, but close behind is China’s desire to grow their nuclear arsenal, both quantitatively and qualitatively,” stated Kahl at a nuclear policy conference on 23 June.
There is yet no clarity on whether Biden will approve changes in so-called “declaratory policy” regarding the use of nuclear weapons.
Among the major nuclear powers, China
is the only country with a formal 'no-first use' prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons.
Russia's nuclear doctrine allows for nuclear weapons to be used in the event of an enemy nuclear attack - or a conventional attack so severe that it is deemed to "threaten the existence of the Russian state".
Amid Western reports alleging
that tens of thousands of Russian troops were grouping at the Ukraine-Russia border, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly rejected claims that his country intends to invade Ukraine. Furthermore, at his annual end-of-year conference, Putin accused the US and allies of intentionally ratcheting up tension.