|Updated: 23-Oct-2000||Ministerial Communiqus|
Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.
Exchange of views on evolution of Soviet strategic nuclear forces Discussion on technological developments affecting NATO's deterrent posture - Report on nuclear consultation.
The NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG), composed of the Ministers
of Defence of eight NATO countries, today concluded its
fifteenth half-yearly meeting after a two-day conference in
Ministers of Defence participating in this meeting were Mr. Georg Leber, Federal Republic of Germany; Mr. Eustathios Latsoudis, Greece; Mr. Giulio Andreotti, Italy; Mr. Henk Vrede- ling, the Netherlands; Mr. Alv Jakob Fostervoll, Norway; Mr. Roy Mason, the United Kingdom; and Mr. James R. Schlesinger, the United States. Ambassador Arthur R. Menzies, Permanent Repre- sentative of Canada to the North Atlantic Council, represented Mr. James Richardson, Minister of National Defence of Canada. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Joseph M.A.H. Luns, Secretary General of NATO. In conformity with past practice, the Chairmall of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Peter Hill-Norton; the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Andrew J. Goodpaster; and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), Admiral Ralph W. Cousins, were also present.
Since its creation in December 1966 the NPG has provided a forum for the comprehensive study and evaluation of nuclear policy questions of interest to the Alliance. Detailed studies on various aspects of nuclear defence matters prepared for Defence Ministers' consideration have enabled them to have full exchanges of views in developing nuclear policy. The NPG provides the principal means whereby NATO Governments are able to develop policy guidance for military planning, and procedures for effective consultation and decision-making regarding the possible defensive use of nuclear weapons by NATO. The Ministers reaffirmed their conviction that the work of the NPG is of considerable value to them and to the Alliance as a whole. In response to an invitation by other Ministers, the Minister of Defence of Norway made a statement about the Norwegian nuclear and base policy.
On the basis of a briefing by the United States Secretary of Defense, the Ministers engaged in a constructive exchange of views on recent and anticipated trends in the development and deployment of Soviet strategic nuclear forces. They noted and carefully examined the implications for the strategic balance between East and West of the regrettable continuing increase in Soviet nuclear potential. Following a discussion of recent developments in US targeting doctrine, which accord with the NATO strategy of flexibility in response, the Ministers welcomed the further insight given into the extent to which these developments enhance the credibility of deterrence against threats to NATO Europe and North America.
The Ministers were also briefed by Mr. Schlesinger on some technological developments that could bear on the tactical nuclear capability of the Alliance and had a preliminary exchange of views on possible ways in which technological improvements might affect NATO's deterrent posture and defence capabilities. They also agreed to keep under review the wider political and military implications of these developments.
As a further step in the continuing task of improving arrangements for effective consultation among member governments in time of tension or hostilities, the Ministers approved a report covering aspects of the nuclear consultation process that involved the NATO Military Committee. They agreed that this report should be referred to the wider forum of the Defence Planning Committee.
In the light of a study undertaken by six NPG countries, the Ministers also discussed Warsaw Pact politico-military strategy and military doctrine bearing on the possible tactical use of nuclear weapons. They agreed that the study made a very useful contribution to a deeper understanding of this subject which is important for defence planning in the Alliance. At the conclusion of their discussion, the Ministers agreed to forward the study and some related comments of their own to the Defence Planning Committee.
At the end of their meeting, the Ministers reviewed the work program of the NPG and gave guidance for future activity. They decided to hold the next NPG Ministerial meeting in Italy in the autumn of 1974.