1 September 2010

U.S. tactical nuclear weapons: A European perspective

Tom Sauer

A former research fellow at Harvard University's International Security Program...

The debate over the removal of tactical weapons is not a simple one; linked with it are the debates over the utility of NATO and how to reach a global consensus on nuclear disarmament. Advocates of withdrawal view inaction regarding tactical nuclear weapons as just one example of general inertia within the alliance; the lack of a serious political discussion inside NATO, they argue, is a cause of concern for the true value of NATO. Belgian author Tom Sauer writes that such a debate has only stalled action, resulting in missed opportunities to remove the weapons from Europe. Looking at the arguments for and against the removal of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, the author writes that the answers to this debate are to be found in the capitals of NATO member states. The time is ripe to withdraw all U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe; the arguments of the few opponents do not outweigh the benefits of withdrawal. The political climate—with a U.S. president who is personally committed to the nuclear weapons threat—is also ideal. The question is not if but rather how NATO will change its policy.