Biden steers away from big change to US nuclear weapons policy

President Joe Biden has decided not to make a substantial change to U.S. nuclear weapons policy following pressure from European and Asian allies not to undermine their security amid the nuclear threat posed by Russia and China.

After a review of months that was Aroused anxiety From France to Japan, Biden decided this week on a declaratory policy that the “basic goal” of nuclear weapons is to deter, or respond to, a nuclear attack on the United States or its allies, according to three people familiar with the decision.

The U.S. Allies last year expressed concern following speculation that Biden might declare that “Single purpose“Of nuclear weapons was to prevent or respond to a nuclear attack. They said such a change – which Biden supported before he became president – would weaken the expanded deterrence the United States provides to allies around the world with its nuclear umbrella. Critics also argued that the potential change would strengthen Russia.

One senior U.S. official said Allied views played a large role in influencing Biden. She said the president has strong views on reducing nuclear risk and may be considering a major change in declaration policy, but he has received many donations from Allied capitals that have resulted, which has also been affected by the growing threat from Moscow. Concerns about China’s expanding nuclear arsenal.

The result will be detailed in the administration’s “nuclear position review,” which is designed to determine what kind of nuclear weapon the U.S. should have and provide guidance on possible use scenarios.

The NPR will also say the U.S. will use nuclear weapons only in “extreme circumstances” – echoing a language included in nuclear tests conducted by both the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Non-nuclear.

The U.S. official said Biden’s NPR maintained much of the continuity of Obama and Trump’s policies, but added that the president wanted to raise the bar from where he was set by the Trump administration.

The administration will brief allies on Friday and lawmakers on Monday, according to a number of people familiar with the plans. One person familiar with the situation said he had informed the G7 leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

The review comes as the U.S. becomes increasingly concerned China’s rapid nuclear weapons expansion. Admiral John Aquilino, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Financial Times during a visit to Australia that China is making a “very sharp rise” in its nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon expects China to quadruple its nuclear warhead arsenal to more than 1,000 weapons by the end of the decade.

“This exponential growth, at a speed that I think no one was prepared for, is only undermining stability in the region,” he said. Said Aquilino in an interview In Canberra.

U.S. policy regarding the situations in which nuclear weapons have been used has been deliberately vague for decades to keep opponents guessing. The U.S. official said the NPR would contain a level of strategic ambiguity.

Proponents of arms control wanted Biden to move to a “no-use” policy or to a “single-target” policy that they said would reduce the risk of nuclear war. But critics have argued that providing more clarity about when the U.S. will use nuclear weapons will only encourage opponents.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the Middlbery Institute for International Studies, said Biden has largely maintained its existing nuclear position. He said the Obama and Trump administrations used language about the “basic role” of nuclear weapons in their posture reviews.

“If this is the biggest change in the nuclear position test, I want my tax money back,” Lewis said. “The phrase reflects a long-standing, bipartisan tradition of trying to sustain it in both directions. U.S. officials want to create the impression that our nuclear weapons are intended to deter and at the same time hold the option of using it first.”

But Matthew Kronig, a nuclear policy expert at the Atlantic Council, said the decision on the circumstances under which the US would use nuclear weapons would still worry its allies, especially as Russia threatens nuclear threats against NATO while continuing its invasion of Ukraine.

“It basically means that America’s nuclear weapons may not be on the table to deter conventional Russian or Chinese. [non-nuclear] attack. “Biden gives priority to regulating the Democratic Party’s progressive wing over America’s allies and national security commitments,” Kronig said.

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