US Nuclear Policy: The Path to Disarmament, Not Tensions

The U.S. has released a summary of the Nuclear Posture Review, the first under the Biden administration. The NPR clearly stated that the U.S. would keep providing its nuclear umbrella to Japan, South Korea and other allies that don’t have nuclear weapons, but declined to adopt policies to tighten the conditions for the use of nuclear weapons.

The NPR is the U.S. administration’s mid-term guideline for nuclear strategy. In his 2020 presidential campaign, President Biden pledged to limit the role of nuclear weapons to stopping or counteracting enemy nuclear attacks.

However, amid growing concerns about Russia, which has invaded Ukraine and has even suggested the use of nuclear weapons; China, which continues to expand its military; and North Korea, which has repeatedly launched missiles, Biden declined to carry out his pledge on the grounds of deterring nuclear attacks on allies.

Relying on nuclear power and countering threats with threats will give other countries an excuse to increase their nuclear capabilities and stir up an arms race.

The U.S. is expected to play a leading role in nuclear disarmament with the involvement of Russia and China. President Biden, who has inherited “a world without nuclear weapons” philosophy advocated by former President Barack Obama, should take the lead in this effort.

It was also revealed that the first subcritical nuclear tests under the Biden administration took place in June and September last year. This is the first time since November 2020 under the administration of Donald Trump.

We cannot allow tests that lead to the development of inhumane nuclear weapons. It is only natural that the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki express their anger and disappointment.

The U.S. must remember that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons imposes nuclear disarmament on the nations that possess nuclear weapons.

Subcritical nuclear tests are conducted to stop nuclear fission before reaching the critical point when the chain reaction of fission continues and to obtain data without causing a nuclear explosion. They are considered essential for the modernization of nuclear weapons, including the miniaturization of nuclear warheads.

Russia also possesses such small nuclear weapons, which are called “usable nuclear weapons.” There is a danger of lowering the bar for the use of nuclear weapons, and concern that the competition to development them will intensify.

In fact, at the time of the invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin emphasized that Russia possessed the latest weapons and flaunted the position of a nuclear power. This cannot be overlooked.

Now that the nuclear threat is growing in Ukraine, we must avoid further tensions and restart the stalled nuclear disarmament process.

North Korea is preparing to resume its nuclear testing. While the U.S. and other nations are pressing North Korea to completely denuclearize, that might not be persuasive if they continue to develop nuclear weapons.

The first Meeting of States Parties to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be held in June, and the conference to review the NPT will be held in August.

The nations that possess nuclear weapons need to listen closely to international public opinion calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for disarmament and put a plan into action.

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