Études de l'Ifri Focus Stratégique

La guerre nucléaire limitée : un renouveau stratégique américain Focus stratégique, No. 77, November 2017

Over the past few years, a debate on possible scenarios of limited nuclear weapons use has surfaced again in the United States. Russian nuclear saber-rattling since 2014 and the growing tensions in the Korean peninsula have led Washington to reassess its own ability to deter, or respond to, such a limited use of nuclear weapons.

La guerre nucléaire limitée : un renouveau stratégique américain

This issue, which is rooted in the history of the Cold War and the requirements of extended deterrence, has led the Obama administration to face both old and deep dilemmas: trying to conciliate the need for restraint during a crisis or a war with the uniquely devastating potential of nuclear weapons. The Obama administration, after having initially put forward an agenda in favor of nuclear disarmament, found itself forced to think of and plan possible forms of limited nuclear war, in a context of generalized strengthening of its deterrence posture. The international context, the state of American nuclear forces as well as the ideological and strategic preferences of the Trump administration seem to indicate that this shift towards a more robust and flexible posture will carry on, and might even accelerate in the next several years.


This content is available in French: La guerre nucléaire limitée : un renouveau stratégique américain.

Barack Obama deterrence Donald Trump Nuclear United States