Joint Press Conference
at Faslane by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, with UK Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon
Thank you so much, Sir Michael.
It is great to be here at the Clyde Naval Base. Coming from sunny Norway, I feel very much at home in Scotland.
I have just had the rare privilege of visiting HMS Vengeance, one of the Royal Navy’s four Vanguard-class submarines. These are among the most complex and impressive capabilities in NATO, providing continuous at-sea deterrence for almost 50 years.
Even more impressive are the highly trained personnel who crew and support these submarines and help to ensure that our nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective.
I was delighted to meet many of the crew members today, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication and professionalism. They serve with distinction and courage – often under challenging conditions away from family and friends for long periods of time. All members of our Alliance owe them a deep debt of gratitude.
In an uncertain world nuclear deterrence remains critical to our security. At the same time, NATO remains committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in line with our commitment to the Non-Proliferation treaty, and our track record is strong.
Since the end of the Cold War allies have reduced the number nuclear weapons dramatically, but as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. So I very much welcome the contribution made by the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent to the security of the Alliance, and the recent decision to maintain this capability by building a new class of ballistic missiles submarines.
This is but one of the UKs many contributions to the Alliance. You continue to show leadership in implementing NATO’s 2% guideline on defense spending. You serve as the lead nation for our battlegroup in Estonia. You are also leading NATO’s very high readiness force this year. In the Middle East, you play a key role in the battle to defeat ISIS, and you are a major contributor to NATO’s training and exercises.
Here in Faslane, you are currently supporting two important naval exercises, “Joint Warrior” and “Formidable Shield,” which involve aircraft and naval units from across the Alliance, and indeed, HMS Somerset, taking part in exercise Joint Warrior, is here today.
In these challenging times, the UK’s contributions to NATO are as important as ever. You help to deter any potential adversary, and in doing so you help to safeguard the security of NATO’s nearly one billion citizens. Your role in preserving the peace in Europe is indispensable, and NATO Allies are very grateful.