JOE BIDEN (D)
Former Vice President of the United States
In June of 2019, Council for a Livable World sent each Presidential candidate a questionnaire to gauge their opinions on critical nuclear weapon, national security and foreign policy issues.
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.
Here are former Vice President Joe Biden’s answers, in full, updated in October 2020. Click on each question below to see answers and any additional comments.
Do you agree with former President Ronald Reagan’s statement that a nuclear war can never be won and so must never be fought?
YES. Our nuclear arsenal should be managed in a way that deters the use of nuclear weapons and makes nuclear use less likely. The use of even one nuclear weapon would be catastrophic, cause significant casualties, and result in enduring radiation that could affect millions of humans, as well as the environment. There would be no “winners” in a nuclear exchange.
Should the United States extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, provided that the Russian Federation remains in compliance with the agreement?
YES. I was proud to play a role in helping to secure Senate approval of the New START Treaty in 2010. It brought the number of strategic deployed weapons to their lowest level in decades, and provides significant benefits to strategic stability between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. It is in our national security interests to extend the Treaty.
Do you agree that a verifiable, multilateral diplomatic agreement is the best way to deal with the proliferation threat posed by Iran?
YES. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) blocked Iran’s paths to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon, as repeatedly verified by international inspectors. President Trump’s decision to abandon JCPOA — with no viable plan to produce a better agreement — was irresponsible. If Iran moves back into compliance with its nuclear obligations, I will reenter the JCPOA as a starting point and work with our allies in Europe and other world powers to make the deal longer and stronger.
Do you support continued diplomacy with North Korea with the goal of negotiating the eventual denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula?
YES. I understand that the North Korea nuclear issue is complicated and requires deep preparation, and cannot be solved with a few vanity summits, photo ops, and hollow agreements. I will focus on principled diplomacy with North Korea, and jumpstart a sustained and coordinated campaign with our allies toward our common goal of a denuclearized North Korea and ensuring peace and prosperity in the region.
Do you support the new low-yield nuclear weapons called for in the Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review?
NO. The United States does not need new nuclear weapons. Our current arsenal of weapons, sustained by the Stockpile Stewardship program, is sufficient to meet our deterrence and alliance requirements.
Do you believe the United States can maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal for less than the current estimated costs of $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years?
YES. A Biden administration will work to maintain a strong, credible deterrent while reducing our reliance and excessive expenditure on nuclear weapons. My administration will pursue a sustainable nuclear budget that maintains a viable deterrent for us and our allies.
Should the United States review its current policy that reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first?
Do you agree that a verifiable, global ban on explosive nuclear testing is in the national security interest of the United States?
YES. Bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into force is in America’s security interest. The United States conducted more tests than any other country and has adequate data from decades of tests. A binding and verified agreement would constrain advances in nuclear weapons by other nuclear powers or countries that would seek to obtain a nuclear weapon.
In the context of strategic stability, do you agree that there is a relationship between offensive and defensive weapons systems?
Should the United States halt further deployment of a national missile defense system until it is successfully tested under realistic conditions and proven effective?
NO. The catastrophic consequences of even a single nuclear detonation in the United States require that we pursue an effective missile defense system. Even an imperfect defense can have a deterrent effect. At the same time, we must insist on a rigorous testing program to continually improve the reliability of our defenses.