We study the forces generated by an electromagnetic field on two coupled gold nanowires at the vicinity of the plasmon resonance wavelength. Two different regimes are observed, depending on the separation distance d between the wires. In the near field coupling regime, both attractive and repulsive forces can be generated, depending on d and the illumination wavelength. Furthermore, at the plasmon resonance, it is possible to create forces 100 times larger than the radiation pressure. In the far field coupling regime, both particles are pushed by the incident field. However, the force amplitude applied on each wire is modulated as a function of d, even for large separations. This indicates that the system behaves like a cavity and pseudo Fabry-Perot modes can be excited between the particles. The interaction of these modes with the plasmon resonances of the nanowires, determines the forces on the particles. Around the plasmon resonance wavelength, when the cavity is tuned to the incident light, forces are close to the average value corresponding to the radiation pressure of the incident field. On the other hand, when the cavity is detuned, the particles are retained or pushed anti-symmetrically. We finally study the forces applied on these nanowires in the centre of mass reference frame (CMRF) for the far field coupling regime. For any separation distance d we observe equilibrium positions in the CMRF for at least one illumination wavelength. The stability of these equilibrium positions is discussed in detail. (c) 2007 Optical Society of America.