Bill Introduced to Prohibit US First Use of Nuclear Weapons

Sponsor: Giving President Unilateral Control Over Arsenal 'Flatly Unconstitutional'

Rep., Ted Lieu (D – CA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D – MA) have today introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would effectively ban the United States from launching nuclear first strikes against other countries.

The question of first use became an issue again earlier this month, when President Obama reportedly considered making such a promise, before abandoning the idea after being shouted down by his cabinet. Defense Secretary Ash Carter reportedly warned other countries would see the pledge as “a sign of weakness.

Ironically, the sponsors, both Democrats, cited Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as a reason to restrict presidential use of nuclear arms. At last night’s debate, Trump similarly expressed opposition to first use of nuclear weapons, though he also said he didn’t want to take anything off the table.

Rep. Lieu did, however, take the position that this act was necessary in general, arguing that giving the president unilateral control over an arsenal that could end human civilization was “flatly unconstitutional.” It is as-yet-unclear how much support the bill has.

China and India are the only two nuclear countries with formal pledges not to launch first at present. The Soviet Union also took such a position, though Russia did not retain this policy after the collapse, saying it was untenable given the growing conventional military imbalance between them and NATO.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • Steven M Zerbey

    The US is arming terrorists, raping and murdering terrorists, in Syria, is this legal? “Prohibiting first use of nuclear weapons” in law is not going to deter the sociopaths now in control of our foreign policy.

    • EAGLE

      We’ll NEVER give up the first strike capabilities our Nukes stationed throughout various territories around the world.They’re the centerpiece of our military capabilities that keep the world powers from invading or attempting to invade our sphere of influence.And in turn the other world powers that have a NUCLEAR arsenal understand there capabilities safeguard them from an attack from a adversary.No country should ever give up there capabilities that’s just my opinion I mean what’s the point in having that influence if you take the option off the table to use it.

      • You sure are heavily invested in the whole “we” and “our” stuff, aren’t you?

        Stockholm Syndrome or do you really consider yourself part of the gang?

        • Don G.

          He talks from a position of his supposed invincibility. And if he’s asked he could most likely tell us how he believes the US could mount a first strike and perhaps defend against a revenge second strike.

          He’s not alone by a long shot, it’s thinking that is beginning to infect your entire country. And if it’s pursued with logical thought then it would have to lead to questioning how Trump supposes he would make America great again. Because we should all know by now that Trump hasn’t the slightest idea of how he’s going to do it by peaceful means. There aren’t peaceful means. But maybe you as a libertarian can imagine that as the facts too.

          When a mainstream candidate for president can gather support in the numbers that Clinton and Trump have gathered support, we’ll know that change is in the wind. 5% or 10% is not even close.

          That’s the real lack of hope. Not the imagined hope in Trump that Raimondo keeps on babbling about. At least we can be together on that!

      • John Wells

        Wouldn’t you have an argument there for nuclear weapons proliferation for every country on earth?

        • EAGLE

          No dis-respect to anyone who doesn’t agree with me but America having the NUCLEAR arsenal we have and the fact we’re the only country who has ever used them is what keeps the Russians and the many other adversaries from testing our military.Its one thing to have them it’s another thing to have used them…AMERICA

          • John Wells

            Exactly – and that’s why other countries covet nuclear weapons, e.g., so other countries don’t test their military.

      • disqus_feN63FpcdG

        Are you Israeli?

      • Don G.

        In a reserved way I can agree with you Eagle. Even though when you say ‘no country should give up their capabilities’ you’re talking strictly from an American POV and don’t really mean ‘no country’.

        But literally, in reality “NO” country should give up it’s nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are the deterrent to aggression by other large and powerful nuclear armed countries.

        Who would doubt that we would have seen world war long before now if it wasn’t for the nuclear deterrent of several of the US’s proclaimed enemies? Who could doubt that both Syria and Iran would have suffered the same fate as Iraq if it wasn’t for the nuclear deterrent.

        Indeed Eagle, no country should give up it’s nuclear weapons, or even the threat of the ability of a first strike. And because it’s simply true Eagle, that a first strike will result in a second strike in revenge.

  • curmudgeonvt

    “…as-yet-unclear how much support the bill has.”

    The overwhelming number of warmongers and cold war leftovers in the Congress will almost guarantee that there is not near enough support to pass this bill, much less get it our of committee. I’m sure the neocons and humanitarian interventionists are smugly laughing in their cuppajoe this morning.

    • Don G.

      The American people elected them and most assuredly will elect many more like them. It’s not their fault, it’s the fault of the American people who demand that their politicians be in tune with the wishes and sentiments of the people.

      At this site one can fall victim to thinking that the mood of the people of the US is antiwar. It’s not! The antiwar movement couldn’t be more than 10% -15%. If it was significant then we would be seeing the possibility of a candidate who could beat Clinton. Instead, we see a faker, a phony, and a psychopathic narcissist challenging her. A crook who made it plain as daylight in the debate that he hasn’t the slightest idea of what he babbling on about. A showman just like in the movies who can capture the minds of the American people just like in the movies.

      How shameful and ugly in the eyes of the rest of the world. How dangerous it is to think that Trump could aspire to make America great again by brute military force. How arrogant of the American people to think he can do it.

      • Eileen Kuch

        WRONG. The American people DON’T want war with Russia .. especially, a nuclear one. Only those who are totally insane and suicidal do.
        What you’re saying, Don, is that the American people ARE suicidal .. which, btw .. is far from the truth. Donald Trump wants friendly relations with Russia, not a nuclear conflict with it .. The people – except the insane and suicidal – are with Trump on this issue (friendly relations and trade with Russia and most other nations).
        Trump has dealt with foreign CEOs and political leaders for decades, of which over 90% of politicians are incapable of doing. Killary Rotten Clinton, on the other hand, has earned nothing but emnity and scorn from leaders worldwide, due to her constant lies, as well as her obnoxious behavior. She hasn’t accomplished anything that was good – for either the people at home or for those of foreign nations.

  • September 28, 2016 US Propaganda Machine Now in Overdrive to Fight Russia in Syria

    Over the weekend the Western press is blasting Russia and Syria for alleged war crimes in their assault on the terrorist controlled part of East Aleppo. A typical headline from The Washington Post reads “the US accuses Russia of ‘barbarism’ and war crimes in Syria.” Meanwhile, the Long War Journal declares “the US hits another Islamic State chemical weapons facility in Iraq.”

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/09/joachim-hagopian/us-propaganda-goes-overdrive/

    • Don G.

      I just have to say that I wish you wouldn’t Lincoln. You’ve chosen to brand yourself as a wingnut conspiracy theorist on 911 and now people who oppose hearing the truth can rightfully label you as unreliable. You can’t even accept the simple fact that the steel in the WTC didn’t need to melt to cause the collapse of the buildings. It only has to reach cherry red to become like rubber and cause the collapse. So when are you going to acknowledge this and help blow your fellow conspiracy theorists out of the water? You need a fresh start Lincoln, to at least start to regain some credibility.

      • tika

        Something out of the ordinary had to happen for the concrete to turn to dust even before hitting anything.

  • disqus_feN63FpcdG

    That wouldn’t stop the war party.

  • disqus_eEbPU3IGDU

    A ban on first use of nuclear weapons would be effective only in the case of a Republican president. As things now stand, Democrats are not subject to the laws that the rest of us are subject to. Given the fact that most of the legal profession were taught in law school that Democrats are morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us, Democratic presidents are entitled to do anything that they want.

    • eric

      I never noticed much difference in Bill Clinton and George Bush . They both broke any international at will , Obama has turned out the same . I’am .almost positive they have the same agenda on foreign affairs .i

  • eric

    I hope this bill passes . President Bush claimed the right to strike first to in 2008 . I thought this was a very stupid statement coming from the United States president . They don’t call us the worlds one and only stupid power for nothing