NATO policy makers discuss deterrence and nuclear policy

November 29, 2018 – Representatives from NATO nations, NATO staffs and other experts, gathered in Washington, D.C., on Thursday (29 November 2018) at the invitation of the United States to address deterrence requirements against the background of a changing and challenging security environment. Coming on the heels of July’s NATO Summit, the NATO Nuclear Policy Symposium, which is held annually and hosted by an Ally, focused on a wide range of topics, including the strengthening of NATO’s deterrence and defense posture, arms control, and priorities for adapting NATO’s nuclear policy.

“In an uncertain world, nuclear weapons continue to play a critical role in NATO’s deterrence and defense posture,” said Jessica Cox, NATO’s Director of Nuclear Policy, who chaired the Symposium. “Russia is developing and fielding new nuclear capabilities, while at the same time it flouts the international arms control regime designed to maintain strategic stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. NATO must therefore continue to maintain a credible and effective nuclear deterrence posture,” she added, emphasizing the key role of the Symposium as a forum for a wide-ranging exchange of views on nuclear challenges and issues.

“The current nuclear threat landscape is the most dynamic it has ever been,” said the Chair of NATO’s High Level Group, Dr. James H. Anderson. “Increasingly salient is the issue of nuclear weapons in the security strategies of other states, particularly the need to continue to hold Russia accountable for its aggressive actions and violations of the INF Treaty. The substantive discussions we had at the Nuclear Policy Symposium serve to further strengthen our unity and resolve to act together in response to these challenges.”

Nuclear deterrence is a core component of the Alliance’s wider deterrence and defense posture, and a long-standing element of NATO policy. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. The fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression. Following changes in the security environment since 2014, NATO has taken steps to ensure its nuclear deterrent capabilities remain safe, secure, and effective. At the same time, NATO has a long track record of doing its part on disarmament and non-proliferation. After the end of the Cold War, NATO dramatically reduced – by over 85% – the number of nuclear weapons stationed in Europe. NATO is committed to seeking a safer world for all and to taking further practical steps and effective measures to create the conditions for further nuclear disarmament negotiations and the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Photo: Katie Lewis, National Defense University