Introducing NukeVote2020: Where Candidates Stand on Nuclear Weapons Policy Issues



CONTACT: Anna Schumann
Communications Director




(September 11, 2019 – WASHINGTON) Council for a Livable World (CLW), the country’s oldest political organization focused on nuclear arms control and non-proliferation, has launched, a project dedicated to showcasing where 2020 presidential candidates stand on nuclear weapons policy issues including U.S.-Russian arms control measures, the $1.2 trillion U.S. nuclear modernization plan, and diplomatic efforts to reduce nuclear tensions worldwide.

CLW has sent questionnaires to every Republican and Democratic presidential campaign, and has received responses from front-runners including former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Key findings so far:

  • Every front-runner believes the United States should review its current policy that reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first. This is consistent with national polling, and we agree.
  • Every respondent believes the United States should extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, as long as the parties remain in compliance. We agree.
  • Every respondent is against the Trump Administration’s proposals for new low-yield nuclear capabilities, as outlined in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. We agree.
  • Every front-runner believes $1.2 trillion is too much for the United States to spend on nuclear weapons maintenance. We agree.
  • Every respondent except one believes the United States should halt further deployment of the U.S. national missile defense system until it is successfully tested under realistic conditions and proven effective. We agree with the majority.

“It’s critical to know what presidential candidates believe about America’s nuclear weapons policy, because the person sworn in on January 20, 2021 will be in charge of an active arsenal of about 4,000 nuclear weapons. They will assert the sole authority to dictate their use — much like a thermonuclear monarch,” said Executive Director John Tierney, a former nine-term Congressman from Massachusetts and long-time leader on national security issues.

“While the American people deserve a president who is knowledgeable on every issue, they require a president who understands the consequences of nuclear weapons, and who knows better than to threaten their use,” Tierney continued. “This is the first time CLW has taken on such a role in presidential primaries, because we believe nuclear threats are at their highest levels since the Cold War. When America abandons the treaties that have kept us safe for decades, explores new nuclear capabilities, and prioritizes conflict over diplomacy, we are tempting the worst kind of fate — nuclear catastrophe.”

CLW, a nonpartisan nonprofit, has helped elect nearly 400 Members of Congress since its founding in 1962 by Manhattan Project nuclear physicist Leo Szilard. Over the past 57 years, CLW has endorsed candidates for election or re-election to Congress who believe in decreasing nuclear weapons stockpiles, reducing the role of nuclear weapons in national security policy, increasing diplomacy, and making the Pentagon budget more accountable. In 2018, CLW raised $1.2 million for Congressional candidates.