TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND TERRORISM
Although the end of Cold War roughly ten years ago fundamentally changed the face of international security, some of its remnants are still posing arms control difficulties. One such remnant is tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs). TNWs were one of the cornerstones of the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, and one of the first types of weapons to be slated for reduction as the Cold War came to an end. Today, it is important to examine the difficulties of TNW reductions, especially as these may shed light on the problems of verification, transparency and the essential political issues, that will condition the future of arms control between the two former rivals.
To begin the discussion, it is important to recognise that TNWs have no actual military utility. This is especially true if we consider the TNWs currently stationed by the United States in Europe. Neither the European countries nor the United States have made a secret of the fact that the primary reason, perhaps the only one, for having TNWs in Europe is that they help bind NATO together. In basic terms, for the United States and the European countries, TNWs play solely a political role. The pertinent question is whether this role still has any significance.
The situation in Russia is very similar to the one in Europe except that a greater number of Russian analysts believe that TNWs may indeed have a legitimate and useful military role to play. This belief is reminiscent of the old Cold War confrontational style of thinking, which maintains that nuclear weapons can compensate for conventional inferiority. This basic argument continues to be used by the Russian military. It is, however, plainly wrong, and Russia should not continue to rely on nuclear weapons to compensate for the deterioration of its conventional forces. The Russian Federation does