Rep. Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services committee, said nuclear weapons should be "instruments of deterrence," and U.S. policy should be to not use them in a first strike.
Congressman Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, doesn’t think the United States should fire nuclear weapons first, and he wants every country in the world to know that’s the policy.
The Seattle representative, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services committee, introduced a bill Wednesday with a single sentence of text:
“It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.”
Smith said the measure could help prevent catastrophic misjudgment.
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“The United States should not use nuclear arms in a first strike. They are instruments of deterrence, and they should be treated as such,” Smith said in a news release.
Declaring the policy would “increase strategic stability, particularly in a crisis, reducing the risk of miscalculation that could lead to an unintended all-out nuclear war.”
Smith — whose 9th District stretches from South Seattle to Tacoma and includes Bellevue and Mercer Island — introduced his bill as lawmakers are taking renewed interest in the process for using nuclear weapons.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican who has been critical of President Donald Trump, held a Senate hearing with Pentagon officials on the authority and procedures for using nuclear weapons. If President Trump ordered a pre-emptive nuclear strike, the Associated Press reports, no one could stop him. Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat, has pushed to strip President Trump’s ability to launch a nuclear first strike without congressional action, the Boston Globe reports.
Smith has supported a “no-first-use” nuclear policy since before President Trump took office. In 2016, Smith was among a group of Democrats who sent a letter urging President Barack Obama to adopt the policy.
Meanwhile, as North Korea continues to develop its nuclear capabilities and with Seattle seen as a logical target, Washington state lawmakers have reconsidered a law that bars emergency planners from preparing for nuclear attack.