STOCKHOLM - SIPRI has published a new paper that explores whether nuclear deterrence is an obstacle to progress in nuclear disarmament.

This paper starts from the assumption that many insights from previous minimal nuclear deterrence discussions are still valid and can help to invigorate the current debate on practical approaches to disarmament. Although the prospects for nuclear arms control appear dim following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the resulting new awareness of nuclear risks should inform bold nuclear disarmament measures in the long term.

The paper argues that nuclear deterrence is possible at low numbers, and hence reliance on nuclear deterrence is not an obstacle to significant progress in nuclear disarmament. In particular, there is scope for reducing the vast Russian and United States nuclear arsenals, which risk planetary-scale destruction and stand in the way of multilateral nuclear disarmament.

In addition to making recommendations on how to address such strategic challenges, the paper addresses some conceptual dilemmas traditionally associated with minimal nuclear deterrence.

About the author

Dr Tytti Erästö (Finland) is a Senior Researcher in the SIPRI Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.

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