Theater Modernization Options and Arms Control Challenges in Europe

A Conference Report

by Richard Bitzinger


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A conference held in Maffliers, France, in April 1989 brought together defense analysts and government officials from the United States, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the United Kingdom to discuss the future of NATO theater nuclear forces (TNF), the options for nuclear modernization, and the problems and challenges posed by the growing pressures for arms control. No clear consensus emerged, but the discussions brought up several important points. American and British participants appeared to be wary of further TNF arms control. They supported preservation and modernization of NATO's short-range nuclear forces (SNF) and desired replacement for intermediate-range nuclear forces. Participants from the Federal Republic of Germany wanted immediate progress on TNF arms control leading toward total elimination of all SNF. The French participants argued that the alliance should adopt the French concept of "prestrategic warning." Interestingly, the conference tended more to mirror the contemporary NATO debate over the future course of arms control and nuclear modernization than to resolve any of these contentious issues.

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