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Deterring Chemical Warfare

  • Edward M. Spiers

Abstract

In 1967, NATO adopted the strategy of flexible response by which it proposed to deter any level of aggression by threatening to retaliate with appropriate levels of military force. Seeking to avoid undue reliance on nuclear weapons, and so enhance the credibility of its deterrent, NATO favoured responding to a conventional attack in kind. Committed to a forward defence of NATO territory, it would hope to hold any attack with conventional forces, while retaining the option of using nuclear weapons first, and hoping thereby to terminate the conflict on terms acceptable to the Alliance. NATO’s policy on chemical weapons, including the retention of a chemical retaliatory capability, is incorporated within this strategy, specifically within MC 14-3 and its supporting document.1 The chemical retaliatory capability is not assigned to NATO and could only be employed with the approval of the American President. It is retained to deter an attack with chemical weapons, or, in the event of an attack, could be used to undertake either a legal reprisal or retaliation. Yet the Allies, though agreed upon a no first use of chemical weapons, differ on how they should respond to a chemical attack. The lack of consensus, particularly about the rôle of retaliation in kind,2 could be thrown into sharper relief if Congress ever approved the funding of the binary programme.

Keywords

Nuclear Weapon Chemical Attack Chemical Weapon Protective Posture Nuclear Deterrent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Edward M. Spiers 1986

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  • Edward M. Spiers

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