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Appendix 10B. Tactical nuclear weapons



I. Introduction

II. Definitions, history and current status

III. Risks and challenges

IV. Prospects and means for further reductions

V. Conclusions


Full text Appendix 10B [PDF].


Tactical nuclear weapons remain outside formal arms control agreements and, because of their size, mobility and decentralized command and control arrangements, pose unique challenges and dangers. Recent developments have raised concerns that increased reliance on and new missions for these weapons can be expected. Such concerns are exacerbated by the continued lack of transparency surrounding their numbers and operational status. There is an urgent need to ensure that tactical nuclear weapons are safely and securely stored.


Russia and the USA should jointly reaffirm their commitments to the 1991–92 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, provide updates on progress made in elimination and pursue increased transparency. The perceived utility of such weapons should be reassessed in military and deterrence doctrines, and further weapon modernization should be halted. Russia and the USA should consider ways to construct a cooperative framework that drastically limits the number and locations of tactical nuclear weapons and should unilaterally proceed with additional reductions. In the long term, effectively addressing limitations on tactical nuclear weapons can only be achieved by directly imposing controls on warheads. To this end, it is imperative to strengthen technical arms control research, cooperation and funding.



Dr Nicholas Zarimpas (Greece) was the Leader of the SIPRI Project on Military Technology and International Security. Previously, he worked on civilian plutonium management and nuclear fuel cycle issues as an administrator at the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He has also held appointments with the Joint Research Centre Ispra and the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission. During the past 10 years he has acted as scientific secretary to several international multidisciplinary research, technological and policy committees. He is the editor of Transparency in Nuclear Warheads and Materials: The Political and Technical Dimensions (SIPRI, forthcoming 2002).