Congress may soon enact a ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons law

Everyone in the military knows there’s an officer who follows the President of the United States around with a special briefcase known as the “football.” Since John F. Kennedy was in office, the Presidential Aide accompanied the office holder with this briefcase containing everything needed to launch a nuclear strike. 

Now, Congress may be looking to tie the president’s hands in the use of nuclear weapons. At least, it’s looking at tying his ability to launch a first strike.

Democrats from the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced legislation that will formally enact a “No First Use” policy in regard to nuclear weapons. The U.S. military is, predictably, not thrilled about the idea. The law is intended to avert an accidental nuclear war in case the great power rivalry with China or Russia starts to heat up. 

“This bill would strengthen deterrence while reducing the chance of nuclear use due to miscalculation or misunderstanding,” Rep. Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “Codifying that deterring nuclear use is the sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal strengthens U.S. national security and would renew U.S. leadership on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.”

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The Rising Threat Of Nuclear War Is The Most Urgent Matter In The World

US Strategic Command, the branch of the US military responsible for America’s nuclear arsenal, tweeted the following on Tuesday:

“The spectrum of conflict today is neither linear nor predictable. We must account for the possibility of conflict leading to conditions which could very rapidly drive an adversary to consider nuclear use as their least bad option.”

The statement, which STRATCOM called a “preview” of the Posture Statement it submits to US Congress every year, was a bit intense for Twitter and sparked a lot of alarmed responses. This alarm was due not to any inaccuracy in STRATCOM’s frank statement, but due to the bizarre fact that our world’s increasing risk of nuclear war barely features in mainstream discourse.

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