Extended Nuclear Deterrence: Maintaining Credibility in the 21St Century

Date of Graduation

Fall 2008


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Kerry Kartchner


The proliferation of nuclear weapons presents one of the greatest international security challenges. As the international security environment evolves and new threats emerge--including new nuclear powers--the U.S. must have an effective strategy for combating proliferation. This thesis argues that extended nuclear deterrence is a vital nonproliferation tool when viewed as credible in the minds of our allies. It proposes an approach to extending a credible deterrent to U.S. allies based on the notion of tailored assurance. It outlines a methodology for tailoring nuclear guarantees using a systems-analysis approach to extended deterrence and the application of strategic culture theory. By understanding the unique behaviors, values, and perceptions of threats of our allies--as well as the complex, interrelated components of extended deterrence--the U.S. can tailor its assurance message to each ally and ensure credibility in its extended deterrence commitments. The U.S. nuclear commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is used as a case study to demonstrate the utility of this approach and identify ways to enhance the credibility of the U.S. extended deterrent to NATO.


Extended deterrence, nuclear weapons, credibility, strategic culture, nonproliferation, tailored assurance, NATO

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Darci Jean Bloyer