The Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Study: World powers are modernising their nuclear weapons

Government analysis, assessment and research activitiesMinistry for Foreign AffairsMinistry of DefenceMinistry of the Interior 3.9.2019 10.16
Press release 428/2019

Nuclear weapons are back at the core of the global political arena. This is the conclusion of a recent report published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Growing emphasis on the role of nuclear deterrence is linked to the increased world power struggle and regional security, as well as advanced technologies. This is no longer a question of just the United States and Russia against each other, like we had during the Cold War, because now the whole environment relating to nuclear policy is more multipolar.

The report examines the role of nuclear deterrence in terms of the security of Europe. The key nuclear powers operating on this continent – the United States, Russia, United Kingdom and France – are all holding on to their nuclear weapons and modernising their strategic forces. Nuclear deterrence also remains the cornerstone of NATO’s collective military defence.

While the nuclear weapons are again becoming increasingly important, their control has run into an impasse. The INF Treaty collapsed for good in summer 2019, and the future of the New START Treaty, which expires in 2021, is now also at stake. The interests of the United States and Russia are in conflict, and this may have negative impacts on the relations between the countries.

The accelerating struggle for world power and the nuclear deterrence have impacts on the security situation in northern Europe as well. There are two strategic hotspots in the region.

The Arctic region is important for both NATO and Russia. While NATO’s focus is on the North Atlantic, Russia is particularly interested in the Kola Peninsula, where most of the country’s nuclear arsenal is located. The western defence system of the Baltic Sea is in turn composed of both the collective defence of NATO and national defence solutions of individual countries in the region. Finland and Sweden are now even more strongly committed to being a part of the western defence system of the Baltic Sea region.

The possibilities of the North European countries to influence the treaty regime relating to nuclear weapons control are quite limited. However, what Finland should at least do is strengthen the competence and expertise in this field, both in the context of research and civil society organisations and in central government.

The publication is part of the implementation of the Government’s plan for analysis, assessment and research for 2018.

Inquiries: Matti Pesu, Research Fellow, Finnish Institute for International Affairs, tel. +358 50 355 8845, matti.pesu(at)