No-First-Use : implications for extended deterrence, alliance cohesion, and nonproliferation
Espinosa, Paul E.
Yost, David S.
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While a U.S. no first use declaration might help promote some nuclear nonproliferation goals (for example, gaining a larger international consensus to support an indefinite extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty), it could also undermine the credibility of U.S. security commitments and erode alliance cohesion. These developments could, in turn, increase the risk of nuclear proliferation. This thesis identifies and examines the relevant competing arguments and discusses the implications of a U.S. no first use pledge regarding three issues: deterrence, alliance cohesion, and nuclear nonproliferation. The thesis concludes that adopting a no first use policy would probably prove beneficial only in the short term and only in one respect. The policy might help the United States meet its stated objectives for the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. The arguments in favor of adopting a no first use pledge fail to adequately consider the possible long term implications, in particular, the risk that this policy could undermine stability in Europe and the integrity of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. The potential shortcomings of the arguments on both sides of the no first use debate are highlighted. In view of these shortcomings, recommendations are given to help minimize possible negative political and military effects.
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