NATO’s Nuclear Guardians: Why NATO’s bureaucracy is unable to initiate change to, or support reform of, Alliance nuclear policy


BASIC senior consultant Ted Seay explores the institutional history of NATO's theater nuclear weapons (TNW) and explains why in recent years the Alliance has been slow to move forward with changes that could further reduce this arsenal.

This paper is based upon a number of interviews with recently serving officials at NATO, and reviews the history of NATO’s structural, internal responses to nuclear weapons policy and posture. It then examines whether that structure, developed during the height of the Cold War, is still fit for purpose. The paper concludes with suggestions on how NATO can make real changes to current nuclear policy, and explains why these changes should happen in the near future.

This briefing is the 13th in a series on NATO nuclear policy, by the Arms Control Association, BASIC, and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 

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About the author(s)...
  • Ted Seay, Senior Policy Consultant served at the US Mission to NATO as arms control advisor from 2008 to 2011.
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