In 2020, the Hertie School’s Centre for International Security received a major grant from the US-based Stanton Foundation for the research project “Understanding Assurance, Deterrence, and Potential Nuclear Escalation in Europe.” It is the first time the foundation has approved a large grant for a project in Europe. The main goal of the project is to shed new light on the role of nuclear weapons for Europe security, applying a distinctly European perspective. The project will tackle four distinct but interconnected research areas:

Research Area I: The Role of Nuclear Weapons for Assurance Purposes

How are alliance member states assured that their security is protected? Are nuclear deployments an essential ingredient to intra-alliance assurance? Or do they incentivize free-riding or even moral hazard?

Research Area II: Assurance and Extended Deterrence in NATO

Can NATO square the circle and maintain allied cohesion and successfully deter adversaries in the post- INF era? What are the main challenges to extended deterrence and assurance in Europe today?

Research Area III: Transatlantic “Decoupling” and Alternative Options for European Nuclear Deterrence

What if NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangement breaks down and the United States renounces it nuclear guarantee? What are realistic alternative options that could provide a second-best option for European deterrence if and when the current arrangement breaks down?

Research Area IV: Understanding Potential Nuclear Escalation Dynamics in Europe

Could a conventional skirmish between NATO and Russia advertently or inadvertently prompt Russian nuclear escalation? What are current Russian or NATO escalation thresholds? What type of inadvertent escalation risks need to be considered?

Project-Related Activities:


Nuclear Security Workshop

June 15 - 16, 2022