Addressing Nonstrategic Nuclear Forces

Steven Pifer

As NATO prepares for its May summit in Chicago, one key issue will be the Alliance’s nuclear posture and what to do with U.S. nonstrategic, or tactical, nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. These weapons currently are not limited by any arms control agreement. NATO leaders have made clear that they would like nonstrategic nuclear weapons included in the next round of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction negotiations, particularly as Russia maintains a large numerical advantage in this category. (When ratifying the New START Treaty, the Senate called on the administration to seek negotiations to reduce this disparity.)

On February 3, 2012, at the Munich Security Conference, the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI)—chaired by former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, former German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn— issued a series of papers and recommendations for strengthening security in the Euro-Atlantic region. I chaired the EASI working group on nonstrategic nuclear weapons, which produced a paper on NATO and Russian policy regarding nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Titled Addressing Nonstrategic Nuclear Forces, the paper outlines the range of arms control options for dealing with nonstrategic nuclear weapons, including confidence-building measures, unilateral steps and negotiated reductions.

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