On Tuesday November 30, US Senator Edward Markey, a supporter of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign, took the floor in the US Senate to criticize the $768 billion US military budget put forward in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and to promote his amendment to the act which would shift 1% of the military budget to initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and to assist developing countries adapt and become more resilient to the climate crisis.

“The greatest adversary we face is not a foreign army, navy, or air force; it is the transnational threats of the climate crisis, of pandemics, and of nuclear weapons,” said Senator Markey. “We are not in a new Cold War. We are in a war for our common survival.”

“Unfettered military spending will not protect us from the destruction of the environment and worsening climate chaos,” said Senator Markey. “Increasing military spending as we watch increasing temperatures is not simply ineffective, it is immoral. We need to fund action that will save our people and our planet, not weapons of annihilation. My amendment will help redirect just one percent of funding from our bloated military budget and put it toward world-saving solutions that will drive down global carbon emissions and slow global temperature rise.”

Senator Markey’s amendment to the Defence Budget is just one of a number of initiatives he has put forward to reduce military spending, cut nuclear weapons production, advance nuclear disarmament and re-invest in public health and the economy.

Other initiatives by Senator Markey include the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditure (SANE) Act, the Invest in Cures Before Missiles (ICBM) Act, the Hastening Arms Limitation Talks (HALT) Act and a joint congressional letter to the President Biden promoting strong nuclear disarmament measures in the Nuclear Posture Review including the adoption of a no-first-use policy.

“We should not accept the logic that says we can afford to build a $100 billion intercontinental ballistic missile that will never be used but we cannot possibly afford paid family leave that Americans desperately need,” said Senator Markey. “Universal prekindergarten is too expensive, but padding the wallets of defense firm executives with taxpayer dollars is money well spent. That is insane. That is immoral. We should not have to fight tooth and nail to meet our commitment to replenish the Green Climate Fund to help save the planet while being told to accept the need for new weapons systems that could lead to global annihilation.”

Nuclear first use is immoral

In his senate speech on November 30, Senator Markey, who is also a supporter of the NoFirstUse Global campaign, expressed strong opposition to current US nuclear policy which maintains a first-use option.

“The United States should never be first to launch a nuclear weapon against another country—ever,” said Senator Markey. “That should just be our policy. We will not be the first to use nuclear weapons when we have not been attacked with nuclear weapons. That is immoral. That is wrong. It must be the policy of our country that we will not do that.”

Senator Markey’s comments came the day after NoFirstUse Global sent a letter to President Biden and US Congress leaders, endorsed by 35 leading parliamentarians from NATO countries, supporting the adoption of a no-first-use policy by the United States through the Nuclear Posture Review, and promoting the adoption by other nuclear armed States through the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in January 2022.

“There can be no justification of first use of these hideous weapons of mass destruction,” says letter endorser Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Member of the UK House of Lords and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations. “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

“Rising nuclear weapons risks are a grave danger to humanity”, says Mounir Satouri, a French Member of the European Parliament Security and Defense Subcommittee and Member of the EP Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. “A global no-first use policy can reduce the risks these weapons of mass destruction pose.

Fulfil the NPT: From nuclear threats to human security, a similar civil society letter to the States Parties to the NPT promoting no-first-use and nuclear disarmament, is currently circulating for endorsement.