NATO’s Nonproliferation Challenges in the Obama Era

October 25, 2010

By: Richard Weitz, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute

The Obama administration will need to balance the competing interests of Europe, Russia, and other key actors to achieve its nonproliferation objectives in Europe and beyond. US policymakers must overcome divisions among the NATO members regarding tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) and ballistic missile defenses (BMD), and with Moscow regarding TNW and especially BMD, while securing Russia’s cooperation to constraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and in pursuing other nonproliferation objectives.

To achieve these objectives, NATO, Russia, and the United States need to agree to a robust data sharing and verification regime for NATO BMD and Russian and US TNW. Second, the allies will need to balance the objections of NATO countries to the presence of Russian military in other countries with a recognition that agreeing to a renewed CFE Treaty regime that limits the number and location of NATO’s conventional forces would make Russian policymakers more comfortable. Third, Turkey’s security concerns will need to be addressed through missile defenses and genuine participation in European security decision-making to make Ankara comfortable about relinquishing its TNW. Finally, NATO must persuade Russia that the alliance’s missile defenses sincerely aim to counter an emerging Iranian nuclear missile threat, and that any contribution Moscow makes to reducing this threat will decrease NATO’s need for BMD in Europe.

The Transatlantic Paper Series is a product of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ project on The Transatlantic Alliance in a Multipolar World. The project was made possible by generous funding from the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the McCormick Foundation, and the Adenauer Fund at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Other papers in the series include:
NATO’s Nonproliferation Challenges in the Obama Era

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