Nuclear Sharing and NATO as a ‘Nuclear Alliance’

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This chapter explores the interplay between nuclear-sharing arrangements and NATO’s organisational identity as a nuclear alliance. It does so with the aim of reviewing the contemporary relevance of nuclear sharing and the dynamics of extended deterrence in the European and Indo-Pacific theatres. The argument proceeds in three parts. The first section focuses on the threefold logic that underlies NATO’s nuclear-sharing arrangements. Why have allies come to consider nuclear sharing in the first place? A combination of concerns over nuclear proliferation, the political cohesion of the alliance and the military credibility of extended deterrence provides for a multifaceted response. Yet all three dimensions face considerable challenges today. The second section discusses the
institutionalisation of nuclear policy in the NATO alliance. How do NATO nuclear policy and posture come into being? The role of the NPG, the function of DCA and bilateral security relations all account for part of the answer. The third section compares the extended deterrence dynamics at play in the European and Indo-Pacific theatres. While the institutional features of US extended deterrence commitments in both regions may vary, their political dynamic is similar. Ongoing nuclear modernisation efforts suggest that the challenge of managing deterrence in alliance relationships is an enduring one. The renewed emphasis on nuclear communication in NATO summit declarations indicates that political debates on the future of alliance relationships cannot help but confront deterrence and arms control questions head-on.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAlliances, Nuclear Weapons and Escalation
Subtitle of host publicationManaging Deterrence in the 21st Century
EditorsStephan Frühling, Andrew O'Neil
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherANU Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781760464912
ISBN (Print)9781760464905
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2021


  • NATO
  • deterrence
  • nuclear


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