The independent resource on global security

Tactical Nuclear Weapons: European Perspectives

Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISBN 0-85066-129-3
371 pp.

The introduction of the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons into Europe could have disastrous consequences. These new weapons have already been developed by nuclear-weapon laboratories and pressures are growing for the deployment.

On first sight, smaller and more accurate nuclear weapons may seem more humane and militarily preferable to the relatively high-yield tactical nuclear weapons currently deployed. But some of these new types of weapons would blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons and their use would make escalation to strategic nuclear war extremely likely. Indeed, the argument for these new weapons is that their use in wartime is more credible (and therefore 'acceptable') than current types of tactical nuclear weapons. This perception could easily lead to the exceedingly dangerous idea that some types of tactical nuclear war were 'winnable'.

The fact has to be faced that any use of nuclear weapons is almost certain to escalate until all available weapons are used. To believe otherwise is to believe that one side will surrender before it has used all the weapons in its arsenal. History shows that this is most unlikely to happen.

Because of its importance, SIPRI organized a meeting to discuss the whole question. This book is the outcome of that meeting.



Part I. Basic data on tactical nuclear weapons

1. Background information on tactical nuclear weapons (primarily in the European context)

M. Leitenberg

Appendix 1. Nuclear weapon delivery systems distribution in NATO

Appendix 2. General tables—USA and USSR

2. Tactical nuclear weapons in Europe

O. Šukovic


Part II. The issues

3. Tactical nuclear weapons: Problems of definition and application

M. Milshtein

4. Arms control and tactical nuclear forces and European security

J. Coffey

5. Tactical nuclear weapons in Europe: Implications for East-West relations

W. Multan

6. The irrationality of current nuclear doctrines

F. Barnaby

7. 'Mini-nukes' and enhanced radiation problems

J. Miettinen

8. Mini-nukes and non-aligned defence. The case of Sweden

J. Prawitz

9. Tactical nuclear weapons and European security

H. Afheldt

10. The new nuclear force

R. Shreffler

Appendix 1. Mini-nukes

Appendix 2. Nuclear-device cost


Dr Frank Barnaby was SIPRI's Director from 1971–81.