|Updated: 24-Oct-2000||Ministerial Communiqus|
Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.
Balance of strategic nuclear forces - Improvements to nuclear force posture - Review of current programmes - Security of nuclear weapons and communications - Briefing on operational plans by US Secretary of Defense and SACEUR.
The NATO Nuclear Planning Group, currently composed of
the Ministers of Defence of eight NATO countries, today
concluded its nineteenth half-yearly meeting after a
two-day conference at NATO Headquarters, Brussels.
Ministers of Defence participating in this meeting were:
Mr. James A. Richardson, Canada; Mr. Georg Leber, Federal
Republic of Germany; Mr. Arnaldo Forlani, Italy; Mr. Henk
Vredeling, the Netherlands; Mr. Rolf Hansen, Norway; Mr.
Ferit Melen, Turkey; Mr. Roy Mason, the United Kingdom; and
Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, the United States. The conference was
chaired by Dr. Joseph M.A.H. Luns, Secretary General of
NATO. Following past practice, 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., and the Supreme Allied
Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, were
The meeting started in accordance with precedent with a briefing by the United States Secretary of Defense on the balance of strategic nuclear forces and on the latest developments in this field. Ministers exchanged views on East-West negotiations including strategic armaments limitations.
Ministers then resumed their discussions on improving the effectiveness of NATO's theatre nuclear force posture. These NPG discussions began in 1974 as part of the process of consultation within the Alliance on desirable improvements to forces and employment concepts which would enhance defence and deterrence. Echoing the views expressed during the recent Defence Planning Committee meeting, Ministers expressed concern at the continuing increases in the military strength of the Warsaw Pact forces beyond levels justified for defensive purposes and at the resulting effect on the strategic balance between East and West, particularly in regard to Europe. They discussed the importance of the contribution of theatre nuclear forces to NATO's strategy of flexible response, as a part of the NATO Triad of strategic, theatre nuclear, and conventional forces. In particular, Ministers agreed on the need to improve the effectiveness of NATO's theatre nuclear forces, including their survivability. They emphasized their continued support for broad Allied participation in nuclear planning and in NATO's nuclear defence posture.
Against this background the subject of improving the effectiveness of NATO's theatre nuclear forces was highlighted in a paper forwarded by the United States and in related national comments and assessments from the NATO Military Authorities. Ministers took note with interest of programmes already underway for this purpose and in particular of development programmes described by the United States Secretary of Defense relating to various areas, including improvements in nuclear artillery capabilities. They encouraged continued improvements in supporting fields such as security of nuclear weapons and communications as an integral part of the contribution of theatre nuclear forces to the overall posture of the Alliance. Ministers gave directions for further studies, and agreed to continue their discussion on the theatre nuclear force posture at their next meeting. These studies and discussions will contribute to the ongoing work on the consolidated statement of NATO policy for the possible use of theatre nuclear forces and the study of the political and military implications of modern weapons technology.
Finally, Ministers were briefed by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and by SACEUR on operational plans taking account of nuclear weapons employment policy as discussed at previous NPG meetings. In this context, Ministers devoted particular attention to the co-ordination between strategic and theatre nuclear forces.
Concluding their meeting, the Ministers reviewed the work programme of the NPG and gave directives for future activities. They accepted an invitation to hold the next NPG Ministerial meeting in the United Kingdom in the Autumn of 1976.