NATO's Tactical Nuclear Dilemma

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Renewed debate over the stationing of US nuclear weapons in Europe comes at a crucial time for NATO. This paper charts the key political and technical issues in the debate

This paper considers the options available to NATO as it debates the future use of its collective nuclear deterrent. The status quo of NATO's tactical nuclear weapons appears unsustainable. The new strategic concept presents an opportunity for the reassessment of NATO's security requirements, which will decide the continued relevance of the tactical nuclear weapons.


Calls for their removal have come from three of the five states that host these weapons - Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands - who argue that this could be a concrete demonstration of the disarmament agenda set out in President Obama’s 2009 Prague speech.

But some of the newer NATO member states argue that this is not the right time to take such a step, especially in the absence of reciprocal steps from Russia. NATO's Tactical Nuclear Dilemma consists of three papers, authored by former Secretary General of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Simon Lunn, and RUSI Professorial Fellow, Malcolm Chalmers, which chart the key political and technical issues involved in this debate. Together they find that major decisions must be made in the near future about these nuclear capabilities, and lay out a series of options that are open to NATO.


Malcolm Chalmers

Deputy Director General

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