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Small Nuclear Forces: Five Perspectives

Professor Malcolm Chalmers

Director, Research and U.K. Defense Policy, Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies

Within the next decade, the US and Russia are likely to jointly agree to further reductions in their strategic arsenals. But this spotlight on bilateral arms control efforts has left states with smaller nuclear arsenals on the periphery of disarmament discussions.

Following the next round of major strategic reductions however, attention will shift to the conditions for engaging other nuclear-armed states in multilateral reductions on the road to a nuclear weapons-free world. This report is intended to address the coming shift by analysing the nuclear doctrines of the five states which maintain minimum deterrence postures.

Authors from the United Kingdom, China, France, India, and Pakistan examine the factors that have led their respective countries to maintain a posture of minimum deterrence, consider how changes in the strategic environment might alter national nuclear doctrines, and address the prospects for their country’s participation in future multilateral arms reduction efforts. 

The report ties back to the original steps outlined by NSP principals George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn in their January 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Edited by: Malcolm Chalmers, Andrew Somerville and Andrea Berger

Authors: Malcolm Chalmers, Camille Grand, Teng Jianqun, Rajesh Basrur and Feroz Hassan Khan.


The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a partner of the Nuclear Security Project, released a new report called “Small Nuclear Forces: Five Perspectives”. Supported by NTI, the report focuses on nuclear restraint and stability at low numbers from the perspectives of five middle nuclear powers.

the Nuclear Threat

Reducing the risk of nuclear use by terrorists and nation-states requires a broad set of complementary strategies targeted at reducing state reliance on nuclear weapons, stemming the demand for nuclear weapons and denying organizations or states access to the essential nuclear materials, technologies and know-how.

In Depth