Two processes are now proceeding in parallel: the NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) and development of a U.S. approach to nonstrategic nuclear weapons for a possible future negotiation with Russia. U.S. officials can envisage a range of outcomes for the nuclear portion of the DDPR and U.S. negotiating approach. A number of suggestions have been mooted within the U.S. government for approaching the question of nonstrategic nuclear weapons, but—other than agreeing on transparency as a useful first step—the interagency process has only just begun.
Although many in Washington see a possibility to reduce U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, in considering a U.S. position, Washington will want to reassure Central European allies and be mindful that nuclear policy in Europe has global implications.
The DDPR and U.S. interagency processes will be interrelated. Any U.S. proposal for negotiations on nonstrategic nuclear weapons with Russia will be vetted with allies. Synchronizing these processes could pose a challenge, though a manageable one, barring a Russian decision to engage quickly on further nuclear cuts. That is the larger question: How soon will the Russians be ready for further negotiations? The current signals coming out of Moscow suggest they are in no hurry.
I certainly don’t believe THAAD or any missile defense is a panacea, [b]ut if it inhibits North Korea, under some extreme circumstances, from using its capabilities, and instills some confidence in the government of South Korea to defend key assets and population areas in a more integrated fashion, then it’ll be money well spent.