media Ifri in the Media

Europe is Quietly Debating a Nuclear Future Without the US

America has protected Europe with is nuclear umbrella for more than 70 years. In the era of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, the continent is quietly debating a different nuclear future.



For seven decades, this arrangement allowed Western Europe to focus on recovering from the devastation of the 20th century’s two world wars instead of developing costly nuclear capabilities. Only France and the U.K. developed small national arsenals, and they were just a fraction the size of those controlled by the Cold War superpowers. Nuclear calculations in Europe have been shifted by two developments, one external to NATO, and one internal.


France also has to work against its reputation as a country wary of having too close ties to the U.S. Besides, Paris is also sometimes suspected of seeking to replace Washington as Europe’s security guardian. 

“The French are not contemplating a nuclear deterrent without the Americans,” explained Héloïse Fayet, a researcher at the French Institute for International Relations in Paris, adding that even if London and Paris joined forces, they wouldn’t have the same deterrent potential as Washington. 


“France is offering additional life insurance in case there are any doubts about the Americans,” she added. 


A way for Paris to prove it’s not trying to replace the American nuclear umbrella but rather strengthen it would be for France to become a member of NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group and discuss those matters in a forum that includes all allies, including the United States, several officials said.



> This article is available on Politico website


deterrence Extended Deterrence Nuclear Deterrence Nuclear proliferation Europe France United Kingdom