Updated: 23-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


15th-16th May,

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns


Current balance of strategic nuclear forces examined - Exchange of views on defensive tactical employment of nuclear weapons.

The NATO Nuclear Planning Group, currently composed of the Ministers of Defence of eight NATO countries, concluded a two-day conference today in Ankara, Turkey. Participating in the meeting were the following Ministers of Defence: Mr. James Richardson, Canada; Mr. Georg Leber, Federal Republic of Germany; Mr. Mario Tanassi, Italy; Mr. Johan Kleppe, Norway; Mr. Ilhami Sancar, Turkey; and Lord Carrington, the United Kingdom. Ambassador Dirk P. Spierenburg, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the North Atlantic Council, represented Mr. H. Vredeling, Minister of Defence of the Netherlands and Assistant Secretary of Defence Robert C. Hill represented Mr. Elliot L. Richardson, United States Secretary of Defence. The conference was chaired by Dr. Joseph M.A.H. Luns, the Secretary General of NATO. Continuing the practice followed at recent meetings, General Johannes Steinhoff, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Andrew G. Goodpaster, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and Admiral Ralph W. Cousins, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, were also present.

This was the thirteenth meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group Ministers, who have convened regularly twice a year since the Group was established by NATO in December l966. The Group serves as a forum in which Defence Ministers of member governments may discuss nuclear defence matters of concern to the Alliance, with particular emphasis on the development of political guidance for military planning within the NATO strategy of flexibility in response. The discussion on this occasion has once again demonstrated the value of the Nuclear Planning Group as a forum in which a thorough exchange of views can usefully take place particularly against a changing political and strategic background in which the cohesion of the Alliance continues to be of paramount importance. As at former meetings, the Ministers were briefed by the United States on the current balance of strategic nuclear forces and on the latest trends in this field. They discussed the implications of these developments with respect to NATO's strategic posture and agreed, in the light of their examination, that the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance would be adequate for the foreseeable future.

Concluding the first phase of a comprehensive work program started by the Nuclear Planning Group in 1970, the Ministers considered the last of a series of studies dealing with possible defensive tactical employment of nuclear weapons by NATO in deteriorating situations after initial use has occurred. This study, sponsored by the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, examined questions of NATO nuclear defence in a maritime context. The next phase of the work program, now in progress, involves the comparative analyses of the various studies for the purpose of gaining deeper insight into policy matters pertaining to the defensive tactical use of nuclear weapons. This step, in turn, is expected to contribute to the further refinement and elaboration of existing political guidelines.

On the basis of a hypothetical scenario prepared by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe to illustrate a particular option for initial defensive tactical employment of nuclear weapons by NATO, the Ministers discussed political and military factors that would have to be taken into account in reaching decisions in an actual crisis. They also clarified procedural questions that would be involved.

The Ministers also had an exchange of views on preliminary impressions gained during the recent NATO exercise WINTEX-73, with particular reference to the political consultation process. They agreed to continue their examination when the final exercise analysis becomes available.

Concluding their discussions, the Ministers reviewed the work of the Nuclear Planning Group and gave instructions for future activity. They decided to hold the next ministerial meeting in the Autumn of 1973.

 [ Go to Comm '70-'79 Index ]  [ Go to Homepage ]