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October 13, 2010

New Report Discusses Potential Reduction of the Role of Nuclear Weapons in NATO Policy

New Report Discusses Potential Reduction of the Role of Nuclear Weapons in NATO Policy “NATO and Nuclear Weapons: Is A New Consensus Possible?” October 13, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report, released as NATO prepares for a November summit, argues that it is possible to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in NATO security policy and improve NATO security without threatening either Alliance cohesion or strategic stability. The paper recommends seven propositions around which the Alliance could forge a new consensus.

At the November meeting in Lisbon, NATO will revise the Strategic Concept, which sets out the fundamental purpose, tasks and strategy of NATO, for the first time in more than 10 years. Three of five hosts of U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe (Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) have called for a discussion on how NATO can reduce the role of the remaining U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe and move toward the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. The debate, however, raises a number of questions that go to the core of NATO nuclear and defense policy.

“We are entering a crucial period on NATO nuclear policy issues as we approach the November Lisbon summit and the unveiling of the new NATO Strategic Concept,” said former Senator Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). “The approach recommended in this paper would help bring allies together this fall and provide a strategic context for further reducing nuclear threats.”

“NATO and Nuclear Weapons: Is a New Consensus Possible?” was written by Steven Andreasen, a long-time consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Malcolm Chalmers, a Professorial Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) and Isabelle Williams, an NTI senior program officer.

The paper recommends that text in the Strategic Concept should include a flexible formula making clear NATO’s willingness to support a further reduction and consolidation of U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe and an intent to engage Russia in a process leading to greater transparency, accountability, consolidation and reductions of U.S. and Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons.

The paper, published by RUSI and commissioned by NTI’s Nuclear Security Project (NSP), also suggests that the Alliance agree on a process and work plan going forward to reassure allies that the Strategic Concept will consider and protect allied interests going forward. The full paper is available at NATO and www.rusi.org