The role and future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe are subjects that sometimes surprise even experts in international security, primarily because it is so often disconcerting to remember that these weapons still exist. Many years ago, an American journalist wryly noted that the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was “a subject that drives the dagger of boredom deep, deep into the heart”— a dismissive quip which would have remained true right up until the moment World War III broke out. The same goes for tactical nuclear weapons: compared to the momentous issues that the East and West have tackled since the end of the Cold War, the scattering of hundreds (or in the Russian case, thousands) of battlefield weapons throughout Europe seems to be almost an afterthought, a detail left behind that should be easy to tidy up.
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