US allies involving Britain, France and Germany in Europe and Japan and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region have been lobbying US President Joe Biden not to modify the present US nuclear policy to add a “no first use” declaration, The Financial Times reported on Friday.
Allies share concerns that the Congressionally-mandated nuclear policy revision could threaten long-established deterrence works directed at Russia and China. While some allies assume Biden will cease modifications to the present policy, which has not altered much since the end of the Cold War, many are concerned Biden could consider an approach referred to as “sole purpose.”
Any changes that could hinder the understanding that the US would limit itself to the usage of nuclear weapons in a prescribed set of conditions triggers uneasiness among allies that the “nuclear umbrella” of US allies would exhaust and “be a huge gift to Russia and China,” in the words of one European official quoted by The Financial Times.
US allies do not want to see the US limit itself to using nuclear weapons only to prevent an attack on the US or counter. Allies want to understand from Biden over this weekend’s G20 leaders’ summit in Rome, Italy, that modifications will not be done reducing America’s use of nuclear weapons.
On Friday, Biden met with French President Emmanuel Macron. The joint comment that followed the meeting included a responsibility to “a credible and united nuclear alliance” and a promise of “close consultations” on nuclear matters. When US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited NATO headquarters in Brussels earlier this month, allies were reportedly included in intense lobbying to stop any substantive revisions to US nuclear policy.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said discussions with allies were “essential and ongoing” as the administration covered up the nuclear posture review, foreseen before the end of the year. Kirby added, “Our US extended deterrence commitments remain strong and credible.”