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Saturday 4 September 2010
New Research Division Publication
- Research Paper 61 - NATO's Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Beyond "Yes" or "No", by Karl-Heinz Kamp
The latest Research Paper by the NATO Defense College, NATO's Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Beyond "Yes" or "No", takes up the nuclear discussions of the recent months and reaches the following conclusions which are valid for NATO's new Strategic Concept.
NATO still has US nuclear bombs (Type B-61) stationed in Europe which, together with the fighter-bombers operated by the European allies, constitute NATO’s nuclear force. The number of bombs has been reduced to a minimum. Still there are occasional requests for their complete withdrawal.
Nuclear weapons remain a factor in international relations, however NATO’s nuclear forces in their present form are no longer suited to credibly underpin nuclear deterrence in the security environment of the 21st century.
NATO faces the problem of (rightly) sticking to the concept of nuclear deterrence without having a cohesive strategy or a consistent nuclear posture at hand.
Withdrawing these weapons immediately is not an option as there is no agreement in NATO regarding such a step. And it might be unwise to launch a debate on withdrawal at a time when there is already an ongoing discussion on NATO's reassurance capabilities and on Alliance solidarity.
Since this contradictory situation could hardly be solved at the NATO summit in Lisbon, as the nuclear issue could only be discussed in a very generic manner, after the summit, NATO should initiate a serious debate on the future of its nuclear weapons, answering the question of HOW to deter WHO with WHAT.
Developing a new nuclear consensus in NATO will require time. Until such time as the Alliance can conceive of and agree on a new nuclear concept, nuclear bombs could remain in their current locations. But in the long run, their removal is inevitable.