Former Nuclear Commander, Diplomats, Top Experts Applaud Legislation Banning Nuclear First Strikes

GZ News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following a historic Senate hearing last week examining the U.S. nuclear launch process and the president’s unbridled authority to use nuclear weapons, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced a bill that would make it the policy of the United States not to use nuclear weapons first.
In response, several American members of Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group, an independent nonpartisan group of top former nuclear commanders, diplomats and experts from nuclear-armed and allied countries dedicated to preventing crises from escalating to the use of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“We applaud House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith for introducing legislation to establish that it is the official policy of the United States not to use nuclear weapons first. As members of the Nuclear Crisis Group established this year, we have been acutely concerned about the unacceptably and unnecessarily high risk of nuclear weapons being used. Multiple states and their leaders have lowered the bar to nuclear use. Statements and nuclear doctrines that threaten the early use of nuclear weapons undermine stability and security for all people everywhere.
“We urge Congress to seriously consider the proposed legislation and continue the work begun by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 14th.  Additional hearings and staff work will deepen Congressional knowledge on nuclear issues and help the legislative branch conduct legal oversight of the executive branch’s authority to manage and use nuclear weapons.
“We also will continue to work with our Nuclear Crisis Group international partners to urge all states with nuclear weapons to adopt clear no-first-use policies and to take concrete steps to make those statements credible, many of which are outlined in our June 2017 report.
Smith’s new legislation was endorsed by the following American NCG members:
  • Ambassador Richard Burt, Fmr. U.S. Chief Negotiator, Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START)
  • General (ret.) James E. Cartwright, Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Fmr. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Honorable Thomas M. Countryman, Chairman of the Board, Arms Control Association; Fmr. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation
  • Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, Fmr. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Fmr. Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations, Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan
  • Dr. Bruce G. Blair, Co-Founder, Global Zero; Research Scholar, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
  • Mr. Matthew Brown, Co-Founder, Global Zero
  • Mr. Jon Wolfsthal, Director, Nuclear Crisis Group; Senior Advisor, Global Zero; Fmr. Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, National Security Council
The Nuclear Crisis Group is an initiative of the international Global Zero movement for a world without nuclear weapons. Launched in May 2017, the NCG’s sole mission is to prevent various flashpoints around the world from escalating to the nuclear threshold. Over the summer, the Group released a set of urgent recommendations to avoid the use of nuclear weapons and called on national leaders to act now to reduce the unacceptably high risk of nuclear conflict.
View the full set of recommendations here:
A full list of NCG members can be found here:
For interviews with members of Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group, including Amb. Richard Burt, Gen. (ret.) James Cartwright and Amb. Thomas Pickering, please contact Brett Abrams at +1.516.841.1105 or by email at
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