Australian news, and some related international items

What Exactly Is Nuclear Weapons ‘No First Use’?

What Exactly Is Nuclear ‘No First Use’? Jalopnik, Kyle Mizokami  2 Aug 19, During the Democratic presidential debates this week, candidates wrestledwith a particularly thorny national security issue: whether they would forsake the use of nuclear weapons first in a conflict. This policy, known as No First Use, is the policy of just a handful of the declared nuclear powers.

Those arguing for the policy say it would make accidental or impulsive nuclear war less likely. Those against say that, despite overwhelming U.S. conventional military capabilities, certain dire situations might call for the use of nukes and that a stance of ambiguity is the best deterrent. Let’s explore this debate a bit……..

The inherently extreme nature of nuclear weapons means that, unlike a machine gun or fighter jet, a country may not necessarily use them right away in a conflict. It also means that, if both sides involved in a war have pledged not to use nuclear weapons first and actually hold to that pledge, a war could remain non-nuclear. This is the concept behind No First Use.

The first country to adopt it was China in 1964. Since then India has adopted NFU, with the stated exemption that the gloves come off if Delhi is attacked with chemical or biological weapons. Other nuclear powers, however, including the United States, Russia, the UK, and Pakistan, all maintain a level of ambiguity about when they might use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

These countries argue, somewhat reasonably, that “maybe we’ll nuke you or maybe we won’t” is a deterrent to potential adversaries, heading off both conventional and nuclear war.

No First Use is an appealing policy because it takes the pressure off to rapidly respond to nuclear attack. China, unlike the United States and Russia, does not maintain an active nuclear alert force of missiles ready to launch in minutes. China intends to absorb an attack, evaluate the attack, and then launch a devastating nuclear counterblow that would probably include incinerating the attacker’s cities. In the Chinese view this is plenty enough to deter a surprise nuclear attack.

NFU is also seen as beneficial as it would prevent a crazy, impulsive, unpredictable leader (in the view of candidate Elizabeth Warren and others, President Trump himself) from suddenly ordering up a nuclear strike. It would also eliminate possibility of nuclear weapons launched on false warnings, such as the 1983 incident in which Soviet defenses warned that American ICBMs were headed towards the USSR. No First Use would build a useful delay into an American nuclear response while still ensuring the other side gets clobbered.

A pledge not to use nuclear weapons does not, readiness aside, mean the U.S. would let its nuclear guard down. The Pentagon would have just as many nuclear weapons as it had before. It could even have less: China has a reported 290 nuclear weapons to the 1,500 deployed weapons in American and Chinese arsenals. …

The idea of No First Use is a popular one in the United States, the only country to ever use nuclear weapons in war. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 67 percent of the American people supported the adoption of NFU in 2016…….

August 3, 2019 - Posted by | General News

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