Reports | 18 May 2011

Weathering change

Can extended nuclear deterrence (END) continue to support international stability and non-proliferation? Should it and can it adapt to a 21st century strategic environment involving new threats, shifting power balances and fresh moves towards disarmament? In Weathering Change, global experts and emerging scholars share assessments on the future of the so-called nuclear umbrella. This publication is based on a debate conducted on the Lowy Institute blog, The Interpreter, in 2011.

  • Rory Medcalf

Can extended nuclear deterrence (END) continue to support international stability and non-proliferation? Should it and can it adapt to a 21st century strategic environment involving new threats, shifting power balances and fresh moves towards disarmament? In Weathering Change, global experts and emerging scholars share assessments on the future of the so-called nuclear umbrella. This publication is based on a debate conducted on the Lowy Institute blog, The Interpreter, in 2011.

  • Rory Medcalf
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Key Findings

  • The ‘nuclear umbrella’ – protecting allies with US nuclear arms – has greatly benefited peace and non-proliferation.
  • But it is under strain, amid changing threats and power balances – it must adapt.
  • Nuclear response to any threat to allies is not credible; allies need to do more for own conventional defence.

Executive Summary

For decades, extended nuclear deterrence (END) has supported stability and non-proliferation. But questions need to be asked about whether and how it might effectively endure in a changing world. Is END somehow coming to an end? Or should it and can it adapt to a 21st century strategic environment involving new threats, shifting power balances and fresh moves towards non-proliferation and disarmament?

In Weathering Change, prominent global experts and emerging scholars share their core assessments on the future of the so-called nuclear umbrella. Their points of difference and agreement make essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of international security and the practical prospects for eliminating nuclear dangers.

This publication is based on a debate conducted on the Lowy Institute’s blog, The Interpreter, in early 2011.  It served as the Lowy Institute’s contribution to the Nuclear Security Project’s May 2011 London conference and is designed to stimulate the thinking of policy leaders and opinion-makers worldwide. It draws upon consultative workshops in Japan, China, South Korea and Australia in 2010, and foreshadows some of the arguments in a forthcoming book-length Lowy Institute publication, Disarming Doubt: The Future of Extended Nuclear Deterrence in East Asia.