Defense One
March 30, 2022

Biden’s Nuke Review Omits ‘No First Use’, Kills Naval Cruise Missile

The president, who pledged during the campaign to use nuclear weapons only in response to a similar attack, declined to set that as U.S. policy.

President Joe Biden has walked back from his longtime preferred policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons, according to his administration’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review….

His long-awaited policy review says the United States “would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners,” according to a three-paragraph summary released by the Pentagon Tuesday.

During his campaign, candidate Biden said he continued to support the idea of a “no first use” policy: that the United States would launch a nuclear weapon only in response to a nuclear attack. But this support never became official policy for the United States, which has for decades maintained a policy of “flexible deterrence.”

The Nuclear Posture Review language does not apply exclusively to nuclear attack but extends to extreme circumstances that would require the United States to defend allies and partners,” assistant defense secretary for international security affairs Celeste Wallander told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.