Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 08/2014

NATO's Nuclear Policy in 2010

Annette Heuser, Walter Slocombe

March 2010

Atlantic Council


Annette Heuser and Walter Slocombe, members of the Strategic Advisors Group (SAG), address the critical issue of NATO's nuclear policy and offer recommendations for its inclusion into the new Strategic Concept.

Internal divisions within the Alliance will complicate decision-making on nuclear issues. The United States and the United Kingdom, the two states with nuclear weapons officially available to the Alliance, have adopted a policy of combining “Global Zero” as a long-term goal, progress in arms control and a diminished role for nuclear weapons, with maintaining a strong strategic nuclear deterrent in the interim. France, the other NATO nuclear state, remains committed to the independence of its deterrent. Several NATO allies, including Germany, seek to distance themselves from nuclear weapons by, among other measures, ending the current nuclear sharing arrangements. In contrast, some of NATO’s new members perceive Russian territorial aggression as a continued threat and view proposed reductions in the Alliance’s nuclear presence, nuclear missions or nuclear reliance as a weakening of the overall NATO security commitment and a danger to their own security.