• Restricting the role of U.S. nuclear forces to the core role would make the threat of U.S. nuclear retaliation against nuclear aggression by others more credible by not diluting the mission with other, less credible, deterrent roles. Thus under such a clear policy, U.S. forces would exert larger leverage against nuclear proliferation by making it clear that such proliferation would result in intolerable risks to the proliferant.
• Restriction of U.S. nuclear weapons to the core function would go a long way to satisfy U.S. critics that the obligations under Article VI of the NPT are being met by decreasing the use of nuclear weapons as tools of international diplomacy and by permitting much more drastic reductions of nuclear forces than those inherent in present commitments. It could be viewed to meet obligations of Article VI as a step toward eventual elimination of nuclear weapons in a future era where possession of such weapons by other powers is no longer plausible.
If the core function remains the only justifiable role of U.S. nuclear weapons, the question continues to resurface whether this fact should be recognized by declaratory policy or merely be implemented by such actions as reduced numbers of nuclear weapons, elimination of tactical nuclear forces, reduced quick response readiness, improved survivability, and more robust command and control. Restricting the nuclear role to respond to nuclear threats only is de facto equivalent to a "no first use" policy which used to be advocated by the then Soviet Union, but has been withdrawn recently by Russia but is still proclaimed by China. A declaratory no first use policy has been so much used and abused in past propaganda by various nations that a similar proclamation by the United States would lack credibility. Moreover such a restriction could not be binding in case of war at any rate and therefore has limited operational significance in itself. Therefore a pragmatic shift in nuclear weapons deployments corresponding to the core function only is superior to a proclaimed policy.
The summary conclusion of these considerations is that the role of nuclear weapons to deter the use or threat of use of nuclear attack by other nations continues to have at least as much validity today as it had during the Cold War but that it should be their only mission. Although no strategy can assure that nuclear weapons will never by used again, such a highly limited role offers the maximum leverage toward avoidance of nuclear conflict and toward a worldwide decrease in nuclear weapons inventories. Deterrence of nonnuclear conflict should be separated as much as possible from the goal of deterrence of nuclear war.