chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

Nuclear weapons have left centre-stage in the European defence and security debate. The attention of defence planners and governments now focuses on more salient problems, such as conventional power-projection, peace-support operations or the opportunities of information technologies. However, long-standing NATO nuclear issues persist: the role of British and French nuclear weapons; NATO extended deterrence and the value of the US guarantee; the rationales for the US nuclear presence on the continent; and the impact of missile defences on deterrence in Europe. The future of nuclear weapons in Europe hinges on two broader issues: that of nuclear weapons in general, and that of European security and integration. How will Europe react to the considerable nuclear changes taking place worldwide? Where does the nuclear element fit into Europe's new strategic and political landscape? This paper argues that, despite the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons remain an important policy instrument in Europe. However, there are challenges and dilemmas ahead which must be managed if the European and transatlantic consensus on nuclear deterrence is to be maintained.