“Just in Case”: Extended Nuclear Deterrence in the Defense of Australia


  • Richard Tanter

    1. Nautilus Institute
    Search for more papers by this author
    • This paper is a revised version of the conference paper, “Rethinking extended nuclear deterrence in the defence of Australia,” available as Austral Special Report 09-07S (10 December 2009).


This paper examines the foundations and rationale for Australian reliance on US assurances of extended nuclear deterrence. The Australian model of extended nuclear deterrence is marked by its lack of public presence, a lack of certainty about its standing and character in US eyes, its lack of a direct nuclear threat, and its resurgence at a time when nuclear abolition possibilities are being embraced by the leader of the deterrence provider. Australian policy amounts to a claim that the nuclear guarantee is necessary “just in case”– though without any plausible specifics. The fundamental questions remain – for Australia as for other recipients of extended nuclear deterrence assurances – what threats, what probabilities, what alternatives?