US nuclear strategy gravely threatens global security
Published: Nov 16, 2022 06:25 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

The US Department of Defense recently released its 2022 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which continues the US' consistent Cold War mentality and hegemonic logic, plays up great power competition and bloc confrontation, and exploits nuclear deterrence as a geopolitical tool. The international community is widely concerned that the US nuclear strategy will severely deteriorate the global strategic security environment.

The NPR shows that the incumbent US administration has not adopted a policy of "no first use" of nuclear weapons or the policy that "the sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal weapons is to deter -and, if necessary, retaliate for - a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies" as it promised during the 2020 presidential campaign, but has continued its longstanding policy of reserving the option of launching a preemptive nuclear strike. While shouting the slogan of "reducing the role of nuclear weapons," the US claims to deter nuclear and non-nuclear strategic attacks with nuclear weapons. Its hypocrisy is evident for all to see. Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, recently published an article that suggested the NPR "sends muddled messages about the role of nuclear weapons in US defense strategy and foreign policy at a time when the United States should be more clearly de-emphasizing the salience of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear weapons use."  

The US nuclear strategy undermines strategic mutual trust among major powers. The US has long pretended to be a victim, hyping up nuclear threats from China and Russia and exaggerating that "by the 2030s the United States will, for the first time in its history face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries," and openly tailored its nuclear deterrence strategy against China, Russia and other countries. The size of China's nuclear arsenal is not on the same level with that of the US, and China has pledged to "no first use" of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances. The US' hyping up of the "China nuclear threat theory" will not change the fact that the US' nuclear weapons pose a threat to the world, nor will it justify its nuclear expansion. Instead, it will only severely impair the strategic security relations of major powers.

The US nuclear strategy raises the risk of nuclear conflict. US President Joe Biden expressed his opposition to his predecessor's plan to deploy a low-yield nuclear warhead called the W76-2. However, the NPR has retained this type of nuclear warhead and earmarked it for tailored deterrence against China and Russia, and also stated its intention to deploy a new B61-12 nuclear bomb. In January, the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races reiterated that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." Going back on its own words, the US is developing nuclear weapons for combat use, in a complete disregard of the consequences of increasing the risks of nuclear conflict.

The US nuclear strategy stimulates a nuclear arms race. As a country with the largest nuclear arsenal, the US bears special and primary responsibilities for nuclear disarmament and should reduce its nuclear weapons in accordance with the international consensus. Regrettably, the US does not have any substantive nuclear disarmament measures, but instead seeks to upgrade its nuclear triad. The US expansion of nuclear arsenal has undermined global strategic balance and stability. It cannot be ruled out that other nuclear-weapon States will follow suit. It will also stimulate non-nuclear-weapon States to develop nuclear weapons of their own or seek "nuclear umbrella," thereby impeding the international arms control and disarmament process.

The US nuclear strategy undermines the international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Washington talks about strengthening regional nuclear deterrence and detailed plans to deploy strategic bombers, dual-capable fighter jets and even nuclear weapons in the Asia-Pacific region. This is exactly the same as its nuclear submarine cooperation with the UK and Australia under AUKUS and its connivance of the talks about nuclear sharing in Japan and the ROK, which fully exposes the reality that it puts geopolitical self-interest above nuclear non-proliferation obligations and is a complete destroyer of the international nuclear non-proliferation system.

Washington mentions China dozens of times in the report and speculates on and smears the modernization of China's nuclear capabilities. In fact, since possessing nuclear weapons, China has explicitly undertaken not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and unconditionally committed itself not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free-zones, and always keeps its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security. The US, which has long been in a hegemonic position, should change its hegemonic mentality of maliciously speculating about other countries.

At the moment, the global security structure, as well as international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms, are facing the most severe challenge since the end of the Cold War. The risk of nuclear arms race and nuclear conflict keeps rising. How the US uses its huge nuclear arsenal has a major bearing on world peace and development. We urge the US to abandon the Cold War mentality and the logic of hegemonism, pursue a rational and responsible nuclear policy, and play its due role in maintaining global strategic stability and world peace and security.

The author is an observer on international affairs. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn