- The NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) composed of the Ministers of Defence of seven NATO countries, today concluded its seventeenth half-yearly meeting in Monterey, California. Participating in the two-day conference were the following Ministers of Defence: Mr. Paul Vanden Boeynants, Belgium; Mr. Orla Moller, Denmark; Mr. Georg Leber, Federal Republic of Germany; Mr. Arnaldo Forlani, Italy; Mr. Ferit Melen, Turkey; Mr. Roy Mason, the United Kingdom; and Mr. James R. Schlesinger. the United States. This conference was chaired by Dr. Joseph M.A.H. Luns, Secretary General of NATO. Continung the practice followed at former meetings, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Peter Hill-Norton, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Alexander M. Haig, Jr, ad the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, were also present.
- The Nuclear Planning Group is the NATO forum in which Ministers, senior officers and officials of member governments discuss nuclear defence matters. The NPG provides a forum for the comprehensive study and evaluation of nuclear questions of interest to the Alliance.
- The meeting opened with a briefing on the balance of strategic nuclear forces by the U.S. Secretary of Defence, which has become a traditional part of NPG Ministerial Meetings. Mr. Schlesinger discussed recent trends in United States and the Soviet strategic programmes and their implications for the stability of the strategic balance in the decade ahead, in relation to the continuing negotiations on strategic arms limitations. In this context he emphasized the importance of maintaining a valid deterrent across the whole spectrum of risk. Present Soviet efforts to increase their strategic offensive arms and generally to accelerate research and development in this field were a matter of concern to all Ministers present.
- Ministers reviewed the second phase of a comprehensive work programme, the first phase of which was completed in May 1973, dealing with the defensive tactical employment of nuclear weapons in cases where initial use has not achieved its purpose. Ministers gave directions for the conduct of the third and final phase of this programme.
- Ministers discussed the recent report to Congress by the U.S. Secretary of Defense relating to the theatre nuclear force posture in Europe. Ministers reiterated the importance of NATO's theatre nuclear forces both in their relation to conventional forces and as a link with strategic nuclear forces. They reviewed possible improvements in the theatre nuclear force posture, including actions to enhance the security of nuclear weapons stored in NATO Europe. These improvements are designed to strengthen further the credibility of NATO's defence thereby contributing to maintenance of peace and security.
- The Ministers also had an exchange of views on experience gained from the exercise of NATO's nuclear consultation procedures during the recent NATO exercise WlNTEX-75.
- Finally Ministers agreed on a future work programme for the Nuclear Planning Group, including the continuing examination of the implications of technological improvements which might affect NATO's deterrent posture and conventional and nuclear defence capabilities. Ministers accepted an invitation to hold the next Ministerial Meeting in the Federal Republic of Germany in the Autumn of 1975.