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The Biden administration is reported to face serious resistance from allies as it debates nuclear policy and weighs the possibility of a “no first use” (NFU) declaration. A version of this story pops up every time a Democratic administration assesses nuclear weapons policy, although some think change is more possible now than ever before.

The volume of dissent, rising tension in the region and the power of the nuclear weapons establishment all weigh against a significant change in policy, with insiders believing that the prevailing mood about China in the U.S. will make real modification impossible. Still, there is an increasingly weighty countervailing consideration: a new approach to deterrence, one that more deeply integrates allies into U.S. planning and operations and closes the space that might be created by a no first use declaration.

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