U.S. President Joe Biden has apparently decided not to adopt what he's said is his preferred policy of "no first use" of nuclear weapons.
According to the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review submitted to Congress by the Pentagon, the United States, as in years past, will consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the country's vital interests and those of its allies and partners.
The policy, however, did not elaborate on the conditions it describes as "extreme circumstances."
In his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden had endorsed a policy of "no first use," meaning the U.S. would only launch nuclear weapons if it was attacked with them first.
But this was met with concern from American allies.
Biden's apparent decision to stick with the policy of potential first use may have been influenced by the increased risk of Russia using nuclear weapons in its war on Ukraine, and also signs of an imminent nuclear test by North Korea and China's massive nuclear expansion.
At the same time, the three-paragraph summary also says the U.S. is committed to reducing the role of nuclear weapons, including America's own arsenal, starting with a new missile introduced under the Trump administration.
The Pentagon adds that the full classified version of the report will be made available in the near future.
Experts say the Pentagon's decision not to rule out first use of nuclear weapons has significant implications for the Korean Peninsula as well.
"Of course the Korean peninsula is one of the most dangerous places, because North Korea has pursued their very advanced nuclear weapons. So for that purpose, it is important to guarantee United States’ security guarantee for South Korea. I think it’s kind of an appropriate decision for South Korean security."
Lee Shi-hoo, Arirang News