Presidential Candidates: Elizabeth Warren
ELIZABETH WARREN (D)
U.S. Senator, Massachusetts
Candidates were given the option to add additional comments after answering each yes or no question. Some chose to give explanations for each answer, while some gave explanations for some answers, and some gave no explanations at all. Click on each question below to see answers and any additional comments from candidates.
YES. The idea that we can “win” a nuclear war is a dangerous fantasy, as is the idea that any state can hope to control nuclear escalation once nuclear weapons are used. That is why I agree with President Obama that the United States has a moral responsibility to lead the global effort toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
YES. Negotiated by President Obama, New START requires Russia to limit its deployed nuclear warheads and platforms and includes extensive verification measures, including on-site inspections. Allowing New START to expire would mean that there would be no legally-binding limits on Russia’s nuclear arsenal for the first time since the 1970s. I am a co-sponsor of Senator Markey’s Save Arms Control and Verification Efforts (SAVE) Act, which calls for the United States to extend New START through February 5, 2026 and would prohibit any funding to increase the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal and forces above New START limits. Russia and the United States control strategic nuclear arsenals that pose a danger to each other and the world — we need to do all we can to reduce the danger of a nuclear miscalculation or exchange.
YES. I believe diplomacy is the only viable way to manage the proliferation threat posed by Iran. If Iran returns to compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal, the United States should also return to compliance. If Iran is not in compliance, I will use strong principled diplomacy — in concert with our allies — to negotiate both the U.S. and Iran back into a deal that is in everyone’s interests.
YES. Our long-term goal must be the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. My immediate priority will be to secure a strong, verifiable agreement that keeps North Korea from expanding its nuclear arsenal or exporting nuclear technology and expertise to other countries. An initial agreement will reduce the risk of conflict and open the door to further diplomacy to reduce North Korea’s nuclear and missile arsenals, control conventional weapons, and to bring to a halt the Kim regime’s crimes against humanity.
NO. I have led the fight against the Trump Administration’s nuclear strategy, which called for introducing more “usable” nuclear weapons into the U.S. arsenal and expanding our reliance on nuclear weapons in military strategy. These steps undermine decades of U.S. leadership in reducing the role and number of nuclear weapons globally. We must continue to take practical steps toward a world in which nuclear war is less likely.
YES. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that existing nuclear modernization plans will cost up to $1.2 trillion with inflation over the next 30 years. Since then, President Trump has proposed additional nuclear capabilities that will only add to the price tag and further strain the National Nuclear Security Administration. The purpose of our nuclear arsenal should be to pose a credible deterrent. We can achieve that objective and maintain safety while reining in nuclear spending.
YES. I am strongly in favor of establishing a No First Use declaratory policy for the United States. Together with Representative Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, I have introduced the No First Use Act, which makes clear what most Americans already believe: the United States should never initiate a nuclear war. A No First Use policy would help reduce the risk of a nuclear miscalculation by an adversary during a crisis. It would strengthen our deterrence and increase strategic stability by clarifying our declaratory policy, while preserving the U.S. second-strike capability to retaliate against any nuclear attack on the U.S. or its allies. And it would help us maintain our moral and diplomatic leadership in the world.
YES. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear tests and other nuclear explosions, is backed by 184 countries but has not entered into force in part because the United States has failed to ratify it. I support ratification of this treaty and will support the CTBTO, the treaty’s organizing body, in its important work. I strongly reject any suggestion that the United States should prepare to return to explosive nuclear testing. The Stockpile Stewardship Program allows us to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. arsenal without such tests, which pose significant safety and environmental hazards.
YES. A wide range of capabilities affect strategic stability between nuclear powers, including conventional strike options and missile defenses. Before we deploy new weapons systems, whether offensive or defensive in nature, we must carefully assess how each affects strategic stability. We should seek to avoid an arms race detrimental to U.S. national security.
YES. The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system has a failing test record, and even tests deemed successful were conducted in environments that did not resemble operational conditions. Moreover, the system’s components have largely been developed outside the normal acquisition process, allowing the Pentagon to field poorly tested equipment or bypass testing entirely in some cases. It would be irresponsible to spend additional taxpayer dollars on deployment of this system while such major issues are outstanding.
In the News
- Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill (The Hill, August 21, 2019)
- Should America rule out first use of nuclear weapons? (The Economist, August 15, 2019)
- Warren, Bullock spar over ‘no first use’ nuclear policy (The Hill, July 30, 2019)
- A Foreign Policy for All (Foreign Policy, January/February 2019)
- Elizabeth Warren wants to ban the US from using nuclear weapons first (Vox, February 11, 2019)
In Their Own Words