- The United States has initiated its fifth Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The review is expected to be concluded in early 2022.
- The administration of Joe Biden is reportedly exploring the possibility of including a “sole purpose” declaration in the NPR that will state that the sole purpose of US nuclear weapons will be to deter or retaliate against a nuclear attack.
- A “sole purpose” declaration is similar to a declaration or pledge of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. At present, only India and China have made such pledges.
- Past US attempts at a “sole purpose” declaration have been resisted by US allies that fear such a declaration will embolden adversaries.
- US allies are primarily concerned that such a declaration will be seen as a sign of weakened American commitment to defending them.
- These concerns can be allayed by seeking a global no-first-use (GNFU) agreement.
- Such an agreement would help slow down nuclear competition and reduce alert levels. The result would be greater stability in peacetime, lower nuclear risks during crises, and less vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons.
- As a strategic partner of the US that has made an NFU pledge, India is in a unique position to push the US towards joining it in pursuing a GNFU agreement.