[Strategic Intelligence] NATO holds nuclear drills, stands against Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

NATO held its annual nuclear exercise earlier this week with a drill called “Steadfast Noon” taking place in Germany and Belgium, but did not want them to appear as though the alliance was rattling sabers, a nod to Russia. That said, as nuclear threats rise from Russia and North Korea, the alliance has been attempting to showcase its nuclear capabilities as well, including a recent visit to a United Kingdom ballistic-missile-armed submarine base in Faslane, Scotland, in September by alliance ambassadors. In addition, the alliance has taken a strong stance against the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, saying it will continue to maintain a nuclear deterrence as long as the weapons exist in the arsenals of potential adversaries. NATO’s nuclear drills nevertheless remain sensitive, as the alliance generally omits Steadfast Noon from many published military drill schedules. And officials have not publicly confirmed the nature of the drills, either. For the record, Russia conducted nuclear exercises of its own at the conclusion of its recent Zapad (Wet) 2017 exercises involving a very large number of Russian and Belorussian forces. Uncertainty in Europe over President Trump’s continued commitment to NATO and Britain’s exit from the European Union have left some concern among alliance allies about the future of Western nuclear deterrence, making the NATO drills all the more important.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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