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Much pressure on President Biden to drop plans to limit nuclear weapons

Pentagon bearing down on Biden to shelve nuclear reforms

The president has pledged to narrow the role of atomic weapons. But others cite China to argue for the status quo. Politico, BBRYAN BENDERALEXANDER WARD and PAUL MCLEARY 11/05/2021,

President Joe Biden’s pledge to limit the role of nuclear weapons is facing growing resistance from Pentagon officials and their hawkish allies, who are arguing to keep the status quo in the face of Chinese and Russian arms buildups.

Biden’s top national security advisers will soon review the conditions under which the United States might resort to using nuclear weapons. Among the options are adopting a “no first use” policy, or declaring that the “sole purpose” of the arsenal is to deter a nuclear conflict and not use them in response to a conventional war or other strategic assault like a cyber attack.

Both would mark major departures from the current posture, which has been purposely ambiguous throughout the nuclear age about whether the United States might strike first, and holds that atomic weapons are for “deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear attack.”

Biden’s National Security Council plans to convene a high-level meeting on nuclear declaratory policy this month, according to a White House official who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

But China’s surprising nuclear expansion in recent months alongside Russia’s modernization of its arsenal has strengthened the hand of military leaders who oppose any policy changes or significant cuts to a new generation of missiles, bombers and other atomic weapons, according to a half a dozen current and former government officials privy to the discussions.

Lack of answers’

Biden’s allies in Congress are also beginning to complain about the lack of details from the administration on the nuclear review process, who is advising it, and what it might mean for the president’s goals.

“The Nuclear Posture Review must reflect the President’s guidance to ‘reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national strategy,’” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and co-chair of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group, told POLITICO.

Markey penned a letter to Biden in September seeking further explanation on why the Pentagon removed Leonor Tomero from her position running the nuclear review. Tomero, a longtime nuclear policy official, previously worked for Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, who has promised legislation to adopt a no first use policy………………..

The “Pentagon’s lack of answers to date about the Nuclear Posture Review leave me concerned the policy review will prioritize the old assumptions of the military industrial complex at the expense of diverse voices seeking to reduce nuclear risks,” Markey told POLITICO in a statement.

…………………..  leading arms control advocates don’t sound hopeful that Biden will get the full menu to choose from. “We want to make sure that the president is presented with a full range of options even those that particular agencies — NSC, the Pentagon — may not prefer or recommend,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “And it would be a disservice to the president’s Nuclear Posture Review if the nuclear weapons blob at the Pentagon were to give him a limited range of options.”

November 8, 2021 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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