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The arrangements under which this responsibility is shared cannot compromise the United States' sovereign right, or the right of any other nuclear state, to determine whether and how its nuclear weapons might be used. At the same time, effective sharing of the responsibility for the outcome of any confrontation risking use of WMD requires the United States to take its partners' interests and political needs seriously in implementing extended nuclear deterrence. The United States has faced the challenge of balancing these two considerations for decades, as part of the extended nuclear deterrence strategy for NATO. There, although the United States has the final say over any use of its weapons, allied groups provide political and military inputs for planning in peacetime and, time permitting, consult on possible nuclear weapons use in wartime.

This is not meant to suggest that the United States should attempt to form standing alliances to contain the aggression of regional states that seek WMD. As argued above, the political support for creating new alliances does not exist. Still, it is important that preparations for what might be called "collective deterrence" of WMD-backed regional challenges keep pace with the development of such threats. Such preparations can help let prospective regional proliferators know that WMD would be of little use in underwriting aggression, but that obtaining it could polarize the international community against them.



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