NATO contributes to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation in many ways: through its policies, its activities and through its member countries.
Allies have reduced their conventional forces significantly from Cold War levels. Allies remain committed to the regime of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. As a response to Russia`s unilateral “suspension” of its Treaty obligations in 2007, NATO CFE Allies have ceased implementing certain Treaty obligations vis-à-vis Russia in November 2011, while still continuing to implement fully their obligations with respect to all other CFE states parties. Allies stated that these decisions are fully reversible should Russia return to full implementation. At the Chicago Summit in May 2012, Allies reiterated their commitment to conventional arms control and expressed their determination to preserve, strengthen and modernise the conventional arms control regime in Europe, based on key principles and commitments.
NATO is committed to the goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons – but reconfirms that, as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear Alliance. However, it will do so at the lowest possible level and with an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces. The nuclear weapons committed to NATO have been reduced by more than 95 per cent since the height of the Cold War. NATO nuclear weapon states have also reduced their nuclear arsenals and ceased production of highly enriched uranium or plutonium for nuclear weapons. All Allies are parties to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and view it as an essential foundation for international peace and security.
Through its cooperation framework with non-member countries, the Alliance supports defence and security sector reform, emphasising civilian control of the military, accountability, and restructuring of military forces to lower, affordable and usable levels.
Small arms and light weapons (SALW), and mine action
Allies are working with non-member countries and other international organisations to support the full implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in SALW in All its Aspects.
NATO also supports mine action activities. All NATO member countries, with the exception of the United States, are party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, often referred to as the Ottawa Convention.
NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) Trust Fund Policy was initiated in 2000 to assist countries in fulfilling their Ottawa Convention obligations to dispose of stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines. The policy was later expanded to include efforts to implement the UN Programme of Action on SALW. More recently, the Trust Fund Policy has also been expanded to include projects addressing the consequences of defence reform.
NATO/Partnership Trust Funds may be initiated by a NATO member or partner country to tackle specific, practical issues linked to these areas. They are funded by voluntary contributions from individual NATO Allies, partners, contact countries and organisations.
Weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
“With due respect to the primarily military mission of the Alliance, NATO will work actively to prevent the proliferation of WMD by State and non-State actors, to protect the Alliance from WMD threats should prevention fail, and be prepared for recovery efforts should the Alliance suffer a WMD attack or CBRN event, within its competencies and whenever it can bring added value, through a comprehensive political, military and civilian appoach.”2
NATO stepped up its activities in this area in 1999 with the launch of the WMD Initiative and the establishment of a WMD Centre at NATO Headquarters the following year. NATO Allies have also taken a comprehensive set of practical initiatives to defend their populations, territory and forces against potential WMD threats. As part of NATO’s outreach to Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) partners, Mediterranean Dialogue countries, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative countries and other partner countries, the NATO Conference on Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation is the only annual conference, sponsored by an international organisation, dealing with all types and aspects of weapons of mass destruction.
Of particular importance is NATO’s outreach to and cooperation with the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), other regional organisations and multilateral initiatives that address WMD proliferation.