What if the US follows “No first use policy”?

Policy Making Nov 12, 2021

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As Humans developed nuclear weapons, they experienced its devastating effect along with its capacity to completely decimate cities.

Knowing the adverse impact of Nuclear weapons, attempts were made to limit the use of nuclear weapons after World War 2, with formation of Nuclear Supply Group (NSG) in 1974 which promoted Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under which no country with already existing nuclear Weapons can create new weapons and prohibiting other countries from developing nuclear weapons, with measures like Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). A total of 191 countries  have signed this treaty.

As of now there are 8 countries armed with nuclear weapons, US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea.

In order to avoid a Nuclear Disaster, many of these countries follow No First Use (NFU)  policy under which nuclear powers do not use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare, unless it is attacked by a nuclear weapon.

Russia, China, UK, France, India follow NFU policy with some terms and conditions of their countries. On the other hand US does not follow NFU, US policy states that nuclear weapons can be used first in a conflict with a Nuclear State i.e. not only in retaliation.

This policy has helped the US to strengthen its bond with its allies around the globe, by security agreements like Article 5 of North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO which suggests Attack against one ally is Attack against all. Where the US had committed to provide nuclear deterrence to allies which do not possess nuclear weapons, it can be called a nuclear umbrella.

As China tested its hypersonic Missiles, these missiles travel in highly unpredictable paths before reaching their target. The complex and random path followed may trigger unwanted response from a country and lead to undesirable escalation in the situation.

To avoid such mishaps in the future, there has been an active discourse on having a NFU policy for the US in the White House. It is overall advantageous to the country and also relieves China from a threat of a nuclear weapon from the US and may lose tensions between US and China, it will have an intense impact on allies of US dependent on the nuclear umbrella for national security.

If this policy comes to act, it will radically shift the foreign policies of many major countries like Japan, South Korea, etc. It may also prompt other countries to develop their own nuclear weapons to ensure national security, to deal with nuclear deterrence.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the talks with allies were “essential and ongoing”, assuring allies that their commitment still remains strong and credible.

This article has been written by Rutam Pimplapure for The Paradigm

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