Trust among friends: nuclear confidence-building in NATO

Hugh Chalmers (RUSI)




The recently-released NATO Deterrence and Defence Posture Review reiterated the consensus view that strategic nuclear forces act as the ‘supreme guarantee’ of security within the Alliance. However, the role of non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) within the Alliance is far more subtle. While their military relevance has diminished with the fall of the Soviet Union, their relevance as a confidence-building symbol of US military commitment to Europe, and Alliance cohesion as a whole, has expanded.
As clouds of fiscal austerity, diverging threat perceptions and domestic dissent gather over Europe, confidence that members are both willing and able to agree on (and eventually carry out) commitments will be strained. Underneath these clouds, the continued uncertainty over the future of US NSNW in Europe could well act as a lightning rod. Could the sudden or unilateral removal of these weapons attract a shock of distrust to shake the Alliance? To ponder this question this presentation will identify key confidence-building attributes of these weapons from their deployment history in Europe, before considering a number of possible deployment alternatives and their effects on intra-Alliance trust and confidence.


Mr. Hugh Chalmers

Hugh Chalmers joined RUSI as a Research Analyst in April 2012. His research interests include the management of nuclear technology, nuclear arms control and disarmament, and multilateral regimes. He contributes research and project support to the nuclear analysis team, and acts as coordinator for the UK Project on Nuclear Issues. Hugh has come to RUSI from a consulting position at the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) where he developed and managed their online content. He has also held previous positions at IHS Jane's and the King's College Centre for Science and Security Studies. He holds an MA in Science and Security from the King's College Department of War Studies, where his research focused on nuclear arms control and verification, and a BSc(Hons) in Astrophysics from The University of Edinburgh.