- The NATO Nuclear Planning Group, which is responsible
for the development of Alliance nuclear defence policy and
is currently composed of the Ministers of Defence of eight
NATO countries, concluded its twenty-first half-yearly
meeting in Ottawa, Canada, today. Attending the two-day
conference were the following Ministers of Defence: Mr.
Danson, Canada; Mr. Leber, Federal Republic of Germany; Mr.
Lattanzio, Italy; Mr. Stemerdink, the Netherlands; Mr.
Mulley, the United Kingdom; and Dr. Brown, the United
States. Undersecretary of State for Defence Zaimis M.P.
represented Greece and Undersecretary of State for Defence
Holst represented Norway. The meeting was chaired by Dr.
Luns, the Secretary General of NATO. The Chairman of the
NATO Military Committee, General Zeiner Gundersen, the
Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Haig, and the
Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, Admiral Kidd, were also
- Ministers received a briefing by the United States
Secretary of Defence on the balance of nuclear forces
between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. They noted the continuing
improvements in Soviet nuclear forces over the whole
spectrum of capabilities including the appearance of new
nuclear missile systems equipped with multiple warheads,
such as intercontinental systems and the SS-20 mobile
intermediate range system capable of striking targets in
the whole of Europe and beyond. They also discussed current
and potential improvements in NATO nuclear forces. They
agreed that the Alliance's nuclear capability as a whole
continued to make a vital contribution to deterrence and
underlined their determination to maintain essential
equivalence between the nuclear capabilities of NATO and
the Warsaw Pact. They continued their on-going discussion
of the importance of SALT and other arms control
negotiations in this context. Ministers reviewed the
implications for Western security of current developments
in cruise missiles, including the relationship to arms
control negotiations on these developments.
- Ministers discussed the results of two studies
prepared by the NATO military authorities, dealing with air
defence and the use of dual-capable aircraft. They
reaffirmed the need for continuing efforts to improve the
effectiveness of NATO's theatre nuclear forces. Ministers
also reaffirmed the importance of improving NATO
conventional forces so as to maintain the credibility of
NATO's strategy of forward defence and flexible response.
- Ministers also considered a report by a study group
on new technology. Their discussion centred on the
political and military implications of this new technology
and they agreed that its efficient application, while not
offering a low-cost and easy means of maintaining a
credible and effective deterrent, could enhance NATO's
capability to implement its strategy if deployed in a
timely, integrated manner and exploited imaginatively. They
gave directions for further work in this area taking into
account work recently initiated in the Defence Planning
Committee to develop a long term defence programme for the
Alliance for the 1980s.
- At their meeting in London in November 1976, Ministers
agreed to some procedural improvements and refinements in
the machinery for consultation un and control of the
possible use of nuclear weapons in the defence of NATO.
Since then, these improved and refined procedures have been
tested in an Alliance-wide exercise and Ministers discussed
some of the political and military aspects of the exercise.
It was agreed that efforts to refine these procedures
should be continued.
- Ministers accepted with pleasure an invitation to hold
the next NPG Ministerial Meeting in Italy in the Autumn of