Updated: 23-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


October 1972

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Progress in structuring and deployment of NATO forces - Initial defensive tactical use of nuclear weapons at sea examined.

The NATO Nuclear Planning Group, comprising Ministers of Defence of seven NATO countries, adjourned today after a two-day conference in London. This was the twelfth of the regular half yearly meetings of the Group, which has the general responsibility of developing political guidance on nuclear defence matters for adoption by the Alliance.

Ministers attending the meeting were Mr. Paul Vanden Boeynants, Belgium; Mr. Kjeld Olesen, Denmark; Mr. Georg Leber, Germany; Mr. Mario Tanassi, Italy; Mr. Mehmet Izmen, Turkey; Lord Carrington, United Kingdom, and Mr. Melvin R. Laird, United States. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Joseph M. A. H. Luns, Secretary General of NATO

Continuing the practice the United States has followed in the past, Mr. Laird briefed Ministers on the balance of strategic nuclear forces. Ministers then engaged in a discussion of recent developments and trends that are of interest and concern to NATO.

Ministers discussed a study prepared by a number of countries and a report by the Military Committee and took note of the progress made in the structuring and deployment of NATO forces to improve their ability to conduct operations in situations in which nuclear weapons may be employed.

After receiving a presentation prepared by the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic on a hypothetical situation dealing with the initial defensive tactical use of nuclear weapons at sea in the Atlantic, Ministers exchanged views on the political and military implications of such use. They also examined in some details the arrangements, procedures and facilities that would be available in time of hostilities for consultation among member governments if the use of nuclear weapons becomes necessary.

As a further step in the fulfillment of a comprehensive work program started three years ago on ways by which the possible defensive tactical use of nuclear weapons might effectively serve the NATO strategy of flexibility in response, Ministers discussed a study prepared by certain countries. After reviewing the current status of the work program, they issued additional instructions concerning the direction of future effort.

In this connection, they also emphasized that the maintenance of an adequate level of conventional forces was necessary to make the strategy of flexibility in response effective.

Ministers agreed to hold the next meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group in Turkey in Spring of 1973.

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