WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama is considering declaring a “no first use” policy for America’s nuclear arsenal as part of a set of nuclear policy options he is expected to promote in his final six months in office, according to a column carried in the Monday edition of the Washington Post.
If Obama were to declare the policy, it would represent a landmark change in the U.S. nuclear posture. It would also weaken the country’s nuclear deterrent as Republican lawmakers argue, and spark concern among Japan, South Korea and other allies under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Quoting several U.S. officials briefed on the options, columnist Josh Rogin wrote the Obama administration is also considering scaling back budgets for modernizing the country’s nuclear arsenal and seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution affirming a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons.
Such options represent Obama’s call to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and eventually rid the world of such weapons in his 2009 address in Prague.
Rogin cited opponents in Congress as saying the administration “is not taking into consideration how big changes in U.S. unclear policy would affect allies that live under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, especially in Europe and Northeast Asia.”
According to the column, national security Cabinet members held two meetings in recent weeks to review options for executive actions on nuclear policy. Many of the options on the table are controversial, but none of them require formal congressional approval.
Rogin said no final decisions have been made, but that Obama “is expected to weigh in personally soon.”
As if to signal the administration’s move on nuclear policy, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said after Obama’s historic visit to the atomic-bombed Hiroshima in late May that the president is reviewing a number of proposals to advance his Prague agenda.
“Our work is not done on this issue,” Rhodes said at the Arms Control Association’s annual meeting on June 6 in Washington.