Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons Updated July 15, 2021 Congressional Research Service

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Strategy and Doctrine
In most cases, the United States deployed these weapons to defend US. allies against aggression by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, but the United States did not rule out their possible use in contingencies with other adversaries. In Europe, these weapons were apart of
NATO’s strategy of flexible response Under this strategy, NATO did not insist that it would respond to any type of attack with nuclear weapons, but it maintained the capability to do so and to control escalation if nuclear weapons were used. This approach was intended to convince the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact that any conflict, even one that began with conventional weapons, could result in nuclear retaliation As the Cold War drew to a close, NATO acknowledged that it would no longer maintain nuclear weapons to deter or defeat a conventional attack from the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact because the threat of a simultaneous, full-scale attack on all of
NATO’s European fronts has effectively been removed But NATO documents indicated that these weapons would still play an important political role in NATO’s strategy by ensuring uncertainty in the mind of any potential aggressor about the nature of the Allies response to military aggression.”

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