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Take action to restrict first use of nuclear weapons

February 13, 2017

The U.S. maintains 400 Minuteman missiles like this one on hair-trigger alert 24/7, each with a 300 kiloton warhead (20 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb). Under current law, the president can order any or all of these launched in under 10 minutes.

U.S. policy confers upon the president the sole authority to use nuclear weapons—even for a "first strike." California Representative Ted Lieu and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey believe it's time to change that policy for this and future presidents. On January 24, they introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would prohibit a president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

Endorsing the Lieu-Markey bill, William Perry said, "During my period as Secretary of Defense, I never confronted a situation, or could even imagine a situation, in which I would recommend that the president make a first strike with nuclear weapons—understanding that such an action, whatever the provocation, would likely bring about the end of civilization."

Last week, the editors of the New York Times also endorsed the bill, saying "…it sends a clear message to Mr. Trump that he should not be the first since World War II to use nuclear weapons."

Please ask your U.S. Representative to cosponsor this important bill.