Tactical Nuclear Weapons, NATO and Deterrence

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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. Though not an essential part of the overall strategic capability, particularly in a period of peace and stability, NATO’s nuclear sharing has been considered important to NATO’s internal cohesion and a symbol of US continued commitment to European security. As East-West tension is growing along with fears over Russian aggression and expansionism, particularly due to Russia’s actions taken within Ukraine over the past two years, support for continued deployment of these systems can be expected to strengthen. Yet, ironically, now it may be more important than ever to move beyond symbolism and consider not only the dangers of continued deployment by contributing to tensions and insecurity, but also the manner in which they undermine NATO cohesion and could come to threaten the credibility of NATO’s nuclear deterrence, particularly in a crisis. Therefore, this short briefing paper asks the question: Are NATO’sTNW actually a threat to the credibility of its own deterrence?

Click the link below to read the report.


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© Crown Copyright 2014

Photographer: Sergeant Paul Shaw LBIPP (Army)

Image 45157525.jpg from www.defenceimages.mod.uk

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About the author(s)...
  • Cristina Varriale interned in BASIC's London office during the summer 2015.
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