No First Use: Decrease the Danger of Nuclear War


Ever since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the danger of nuclear war has remained alarmingly high.  Part of the problem is that the US has a dangerous and short-sighted policy of making nuclear threats to achieve foreign policy objectives.  Daniel Ellsberg lists 25 explicit nuclear threats in his 2017 book, The Doomsday Machine / Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (page 319). Without Eisenhower’s cool head, the US might have attacked China in the 1958 over Taiwan, a dangerous scenario that persists to this day.  Moreover, both the US and Russia have risked accidentally starting a nuclear war multiple times due to false alarms that each was currently under attack by the other.

What is “Nuclear Winter”?

A nuclear exchange between the US and Russia would cause “Nuclear Winter”, where enough smoke and debris is lifted into the stratosphere to severely block out sunlight for multiple years.  This would cause crops to fail world-wide, leading to widespread starvation.  Climatologist Alan Robock tells us that even a modest exchange of nuclear warheads will result in tens of millions of deaths on the first afternoon.  Daniel Ellsberg warns that an all-out nuclear war will kill hundreds of millions in the first days, and that the nuclear winter that follows would kill billions of people and end civilization as we know it.

As long as nations maintain nuclear arsenals, this danger will persist, and at some point these weapons will be used.

Why No First Use?

As an important step toward decreasing the danger of nuclear war and eliminating nuclear weapons, diverse civic organizations have formed a Coalition:  “No First Use:  Decrease the Danger of Nuclear War”.  Our growing Coalition is pushing for Congress to legislate – and the President to declare – that the United States will neither initiate nor threaten to initiate the first use of Nuclear Weapons.

A US policy of No First Use will make us safer from nuclear war because:

  • A policy of NFU decreases the danger of US nuclear threats leading to a conflict that might escalate to a nuclear war.
  • If Russia or China sees a false warning of a US incoming attack, it will be less likely to launch missiles if the US has a credible No First Use policy.
  • If the US adopts a NFU policy, it can take its nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert, decreasing the danger these weapons can be launched by an act of cyberterrorism.

Our No First Use Coalition

Our Coalition involves political groups, campus-based organizations, religious groups, public service organizations and professional organizations, all pushing to achieve a No First Use policy for our common survival.  We seek to pressure Congress and President Biden to legislate/declare a No First Use policy.  Specific actions include:

  • Holding public educational events, both online and in-person
  • Speaking with Congress and the Administration, both individually and through our organizations
  • Sponsoring state and local resolutions and legislation associated with NFU

Our members are Massachusetts Peace Action, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, Peaceworks Kansas City, MIT Radius, Peace Action Wisconsin, Chicago Area Peace Action, and Peace Action Maine.

What can we do?

  • Individuals: Urge President Biden to declare a No First Use policy, and contact your Congressional representatives to support the Markey-Lieu Bill (S.1148, HR.669, “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2021”) and the Warren-Smith Bill (S.1219, HR.2603, “To Establish the Policy of the United States Regarding the No-First-Use of Nuclear Weapons”).

Use this easy tool to send a message to Congress and President Biden.

See our Campaign Plan.

View the No First Use Conference we held on May 15, 2021: Panel 1 and Panel 2.

Download a printable copy of this fact sheet.

Together we can achieve a No First Use policy backed by legislation that makes us all safer, and which takes an important step toward eliminating nuclear weapons.

Contact: No First Use Coalition, 617-354-2169