A number of members of the House and Senate who sit on committees related to national security have expressed concerns that at a time when China is expanding its arsenal and Russia is attacking former Soviet states that have joined NATO. threatens, a promise not to use it at first the appearance of weakness.
“No-first-use is good foreign policy,” Richard Haass, the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, said Thursday. “Our enemies would not take the commitment seriously. And it would undermine the trust of our friends.”
The scientists and engineers also called for a commitment from Mr Biden to reduce the arsenal to “less than 1,000 warheads and bombers deployed,” though they didn’t say when. “These cuts will enhance US national security,” they argued, as it “will slow the spiraling nuclear arms race with Russia and China,” and help meet America’s treaty obligation “to take steps in the direction of disarmament”.
But as a political issue, it’s almost unimaginable that Mr. Biden would reduce the arsenal to that level without an agreement from Russia to do the same. When he took office, Mr. Biden extended the New Start agreement for five years, which limits the arsenal to 1,550 strategic long-range weapons; currently, the United States’ arsenal appears to be below that limit.
But in recent months, the revelation that China appears to be building new missile silos and testing potential hypersonic weapons delivery vehicles that avoid traditional missile defenses has led some Pentagon officials to call for new money for advanced weapons and new classes. of weapons capable of delivering nuclear warheads – including hypersonic vehicles.
China has repeatedly said in recent months that it has no intention of entering into talks with the United States about arms control, noting that its arsenal is five times smaller than Washington’s.
The letter also urges Mr. Biden to cancel the program to replace the silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles that populate the American West. Under current plans, the United States will replace those obsolete missiles by 2029, at a cost of at least $100 billion; the letter calls on Mr. Biden to simply extend the life of the current arsenal and eventually consider eliminating silo-based missiles. Proponents of that position argue that they are most vulnerable to attack and that it is the weapons most likely to be launched first — perhaps in response to a false alarm.