The security environment in Europe has deteriorated in recent years, and nuclear risks have re-emerged as a prime concern for European governments.
NATO’s Nuclear Posture
This fact sheet outlines the core issues involved in US plans to modernise the B61 bombs through the Life Extension Program (LEP), the reactions and costs associated with this, and the future of the B61s in Europe.
The Munich Security Conference is possibly the biggest annual event in the calendar for global elites talking strategic security and stability. This year’s shindig confirmed that the myriad of challenges facing the world is as complex as ever. One issue in particular was vexing delegates: the confrontation between the West and Russia and its implications for NATO’s eastern flank.
Lord Salisbury said once that if generals were left to their own devices, they might well decide to put garrisons on the Moon to defend us from Mars. Envisioning worst-case scenarios and drawing up contingency plans for them is part of what the military does to get its job right. The problem with this professional reflex is that it often fails to assess comparative risk effectively, and in particular fully account for the risks of unintended consequences or the impacts on others. When it comes to nuclear policy and procurement decisions, the temptation for overkill is high.
Nuclear sharing arrangements and the active deployment of US theatre nuclear weapons (TNW) in Europe under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are viewed as critical components of its deterrence posture. Previously, this nuclear posture was aimed at the former Soviet Union (USSR) and Warsaw Pact alliance during the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War and the absorption of former Warsaw Pact states into NATOthe official justification for those systems remaining is not connected to any specified enemy.
Defense budgets have hit the headlines again this week, as United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, flew to Brussels to urge European nations to rethink their defense spending plans.