The Montebello Decision on Reductions of Nuclear Forces

announced by the Nuclear Planning Group in Ministerial Session.Annex to the Final Communiqué of the Autumn Ministerial Meeting of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG).

  • 27 Oct. 1983
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  • Last updated: 04 Nov. 2008 18:47

Annex to the Final Communiqué of the Autumn Ministerial Meeting of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG)

At Montebello, Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) Ministers declared that the policy of the Alliance is to preserve the peace through the maintenance of forces at the lowest level capable of deterring the Warsaw Pact threat.

Consistent with this policy the Alliance since 1977 has been conducting analyses aimed at assuring that nuclear weapons in NATO's armoury are held to the minimum number necessary for deterrence, taking account of developments in conventional as well as nuclear forces.

On the basis of the initial results of these analyses, the Alliance decided in December 1979 that, unless obviated by successful negotiation with the Soviet Union, the deployment of longer-range weapons (Pershing II and cruise missiles) was essential to restoring the balance and maintaining the integrity of NATO's deterrent posture. The Alliance remains committed to the dual-track decision and its implementation.1 At the same time Ministers decided to reduce the NATO stockpile by 1,000 warheads. This withdrawal has been completed. Moreover, Ministers mandated further analysis to determine whether the withdrawal of weapons beyond the 1,000 then decided could be accomplished safely, in a manner consistent with the maintenance of deterrence at the lowest possible level of weapons.

With the Alliance analysis now complete, the Nuclear Planning Group has decided on 27th October, 1983 to withdraw 1,400 warheads during the next several years. This Ministerial decision, taken together with the already accomplished withdrawal of 1,000 warheads will bring to 2,400 the total number of warheads to be removed from Europe since 1979. Moreover, this reduction will not be affected by any deployment of Longer-Range INF (LRINF) since one warhead will be removed for each Pershing II or Ground-Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) warhead deployed.

The detailed implementation of this decision as to the precise composition of the stockpile is a matter for the responsible military authorities to determine and a programme to effect this will be worked out and implemented over the next five to six years. In this context, appropriate consideration will be given to short-range systems. NATO's military authorities should report their findings at a future NPG meeting.

Recognizing that for this minimum level stockpile to make the most effective contribution to deterrence, both the delivery systems and the warheads must be survivable, responsive and effective, Ministers accordingly identified a range of possible improvements. Ministers established broad criteria which will remain valid for the next decade, including the continuing importance of strengthening conventional forces. The Alliance must, however, take account at all times of changes to Soviet capabilities during this period.

Contrary to the impression that NATO has been fuelling an arms build-up by adding to its nuclear armoury, this sustained programme of reductions will have reduced NATO's nuclear stockpile to the lowest level in over 20 years. Ministers urged the Soviet Union to follow the example set by the Alliance, to halt and reverse its build-up of nuclear forces, and to join NATO in the search for a safer future.

  1.  Greece has expressed its views in the minutes of the NPG at Montebello.