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Nuclear Narratives: Reflections on Declaratory Policy

Malcolm Chalmers
Whitehall Reports, 26 May 2010
Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy
Declaratory policy is an essential part of nuclear deterrence. With disarmament once again on the global agenda, this report offers a detailed analysis of the options open to policy-makers

The statements that governments make about when and for what purpose they might use nuclear weapons form a central element of both nuclear deterrence and reassurance.

However, as efforts are made to move towards a world where nuclear weapons are few or even non-existent, there is a potential tension between the statements made to deter, and the statements made to reassure. In addition, the relationship between nuclear declaratory policy and conventional imbalances can become increasingly important.

Nuclear Narratives: Reflections on Declaratory Policy explores options for further development of declaratory policy. In particular, it suggests that further consideration be given to combining a commitment that nuclear weapons should only be used as a weapon of last resort with a clear acceptance of mutual vulnerability between the five established nuclear weapon states of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

About the Author

Professor Malcolm Chalmers is Professorial Fellow in British Security Policy at RUSI, as well as Visiting Professor of Defence and Foreign Policy in the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London. 

Malcolm Chalmers
Deputy Director-General

Professor Malcolm Chalmers is Deputy Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). His research is focused on UK... read more

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