On the eve of NATO Summit in Chicago on 21 and 22 May 2012 where the Review of the posture of defense and deterrence will be made public (Defence and Deterrence Posture Review), the issue of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is back on the agenda. They were deployed in the mid-1950s by the United States and Russia. For both sides, they constituted a nuclear bulwark against a possible attack from enemy armies. For the U.S. side, their presence also translated a willingness to overcome the superiority of the conventional forces of the Warsaw Pact. The end of the Cold War greatly reduced the risks of a conventional attack, especially as the two former great powers signed the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe in 1990 in order to reduce their military presence on the Old Continent.
With the breakup of the Soviet Bloc, the Russian Federation was forced in 1992 to withdraw its nuclear weapons from the territories of its former satellites and to install them on its territory along the western border or to destroy them. The Americans followed the same dynamics of reduction and destruction of large quantities of tactical weapons based in Western Europe. But nearly 200 are still spread over six NATO bases. Withdrawal or status quo, the debate rages: proponents and opponents invoking political, economic, security, strategic or legal arguments. This report provides an update on the evolution of the positions and arguments of the stakeholders.