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Evolving Obstacles to a European Union Nuclear Deterrent


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This thesis evaluates the evolving obstacles to the development of a European Union (EU) nuclear deterrent. Some EU officials, prominent analysts, and political leaders in EU nations have expressed interest in exploring such a capability. The incentives for pursuing an EU nuclear deterrent include (1) increased tensions with nuclear-armed powers in Eurasia, especially Russia, China, and North Korea; (2) the perceived decline in U.S. political credibility in Europe; and (3) the EUs substantial economic status, industrial capacity, and technical expertise. The EU nations may, however, continue to rely on the U.S. nuclear protection provided via NATO, owing to the huge barriers to the construction of an EU nuclear deterrent. These barriers include (1) doubts about the strategic credibility of the EUs striving to acquire this capability; (2) the lack of mutual confidence among EU members concerning political reliability, methods of decision-making, and the formulation and implementation of a strategy for nuclear deterrence and crisis management; and (3) the growing anti-nuclear movements within EU member nations. The thesis concludes that the organization of an EU nuclear deterrent, while economically and technically feasible, remains improbable for political reasons in the foreseeable future.



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