NRDC Reacts to the Obama Administration's Nuclear Posture Review

Weapons Policy Makes Progress, But Additional Measures Are Needed

WASHINGTON (April 6, 2010) – The White House issued its Nuclear Posture Review today, outlining the administration’s approach to nuclear weapons.

The administration makes modest but welcome progress on restricting U.S. use of nuclear weapons. It pledged to refrain from developing new weapons. But more progress is needed on the larger goal of nuclear disarmament, said nuclear experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The following is a statement from Christopher Paine, Director of NRDC’s Nuclear Program:

“This new policy limits the role of nuclear weapons in two important ways. First, it makes clear that the United States will not threaten or conduct nuclear attacks against non-nuclear weapons countries that are in compliance with the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, except in cases where the U.S. faces a severe threat of biological weapons attack. Second, the administration pledges that it will not develop new warheads or new missions for nuclear weapons – a major step forward from the prior administration -- but leaves itself room to develop comprehensively upgraded versions of weapons ‘based on’ current designs.

“While we welcome these important steps, more is needed to reduce the dangers these weapons pose.

“First, the United States should pledge that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict or crisis. Second, we need to dramatically reduce the number of nuclear warheads kept on alert, ready to be fired in a crisis or, potentially, in error. Third, the administration needs to scale back its large planned investment in new nuclear weapon production facilities, on track to cost U.S. taxpayers more than $10 billion over the coming decade.

“The United States can maintain a credible nuclear deterrent without the kind of major modernization of the nuclear arsenal that the report urges. If the administration’s intent is to discourage nuclear weapons proliferation and additional weapons modernization by the other nuclear powers, then the president’s massive rebuilding plan for the U.S. nuclear stockpile and production complex sends the wrong signal to our friends and potential rivals around the world.”