NEW YORK — President Obama, who has weighed ruling out a first use of a nuclear weapon in a conflict, appears likely to abandon the proposal after top national security advisers argued that it could undermine allies and embolden Russia and China, according to several senior administration officials.
For months, arms control advocates have argued for a series of steps to advance the pledge he made to pursue “a world without nuclear weapons.” An unequivocal no-first-use pledge would have been the boldest of those measures. They contend that as a practical matter no US president would use a nuclear weapon when so many other options are available.
But in the end, Obama seems to have sided with his current advisers, who warned in meetings culminating this summer that a no-first-use declaration would rattle allies like Japan and South Korea. Those nations are concerned about discussion of a US pullback from Asia prompted by comments made by Donald Trump.