NATO’s new Strategic Concept and the future of tactical nuclear weapons

NATO can and should reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons. First, President Obama with his April 2009 Prague speech has changed the way in which nuclear deterrence is discussed in many NATO member states. The goal of Global Zero has become the yardstick against which any action on nuclear weapons is measured. That is one reason why most of the five nations that currently still host U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on their territory are no longer comfortable with the nuclear status quo.

There is broad support in parliaments and among the public of many European countries to withdraw the remaining 200 or so U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. While opposition to involvement in nuclear sharing has not reached the level where it is forcing governments to take immediate action, it will prevent new investments to maintain current nuclear sharing arrangements. Thus, it would be extremely costly politically and put substantial strain on alliance cohesion, if host nations were asked by NATO allies to invest in new nuclear-capable delivery aircraft simply because allies are unable to reach a consensual decision to phase out nuclear sharing…

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This article was the fourth in a series published as part of a joint project by the Arms Control Association, BASIC, and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy – Hamburg, with a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The opinions expressed in the article belong to the author.


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