U.S. unveils new nuclear strategy, stops short of no-first-use assurance

09:01, April 07, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

The United States unveiled Tuesday the long-anticipated new nuclear strategy, promising to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy while reaffirming extended deterrence commitments to its allies.

The document, which establishes U.S. nuclear policy, strategy, capabilities and force posture for the next five to ten years, marks a break with the Bush-era nuclear doctrine that in fact lowered the threshold of usage of nuclear weapons and weakened the international non-proliferation regime.

Conditional no-use of nukes

The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a joint briefing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on the newly released strategy, known as Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

This conditional assurance means that countries like Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea that have violated or renounced the treaty would remain on the potential target list of U.S. nuclear forces.

Gates also warned that "if any state eligible for this assurance were to use chemical or biological weapons against the United States or its allies or partners, it would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response."

This no-use strategy is not only limited by preset conditions, but also could be revised under certain circumstances.

"Given the catastrophic potential of biological weapons and the rapid pace of bio-technology development, the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and US capacities to counter that threat, " said the document.

Compared with Bush-era threat of nuclear retaliation in the event of a biological or chemical attack, Obama administration's declaration of conditional no-use of nuclear forces could be regarded as significant progress in maintaining the non- proliferation regime.

But this new strategy still disappointed some progressives who argued that the U.S. should renounce the longstanding threat to use nuclear weapons first and declare unconditional no-use of nuclear arsenals against non-nuclear states, as some other major nuclear states have done.

【1】 【2】 【3】 【4】


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • The photo, taken on Sept. 26, shows the SWAT team ready for the joint exercise. (Xinhua/Wangkai)
  • Two metro trains in Shanghai collided Tuesday afternoon, and an identified number of passengers were injured in the accident, the Shanghai-based eastday.com reported. Equipment failures were believed to have caused the crash on the Line 10 subway, Xinhua quoted local subway operator as saying.
  • An employee at a gold store in Yiwu, located in east China's Zhejiang province, shows gold jewelry on Monday.(Xinhua/Zhang Jiancheng)
  • Tourists ride camels near China's largest desert lake Hongjiannao in Yulin, north China's Shaanx Province, Sept. 24, 2011. Hongjiannao is shrinking as a result of climate change and human activities, and may vanish in a few decades. Its lake area, which measured more than 6,700 hectares in 1996, has shrunk to 4,180 hectares. Its water level is declining by 20-30 centimeters annually and its water PH value has risen to 9.0-9.42 from 7.4-7.8. (Xinhua/Liu Yu)
  • Actors perform royal dance at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Sept. 27, 2011. A ceremony commemorating the 38th South Korea Sightseeing Day was held in Gyeongbok Palace on Tuesday. (Xinhua/He Lulu)
  • Actress Huang Jieqiong performs at the opening ceremony of the Second Ecological and Cultural Tourism Festival in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, central China's Hubei Province, Sept. 26, 2011. (Xinhua/Hao Tongqian)
Hot Forum Discussion