Updated: 25-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


October, 1978

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Modernization of theatre nuclear forces in light of continuing strengthening of Soviet nuclear capabilities - Progress in arms control must entail Warsaw Pact restraint in military build-up - Maintaining NATO's "triad" for deterrence and defence - Necessary short and long-term improvements to theatre nuclear force posture in Europe.

The NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) held its 24th Ministerial meeting in Brussels at the invitation of the Belgian Government on 18th and 19th October, 1978. The Ministers of Defence who participated were: Mr. Poul S gaard, Denmark; Dr. Hans Apel, Federal Republic of Germany; Mr. Attilio Ruffini, Italy; Mr. Hasan Esat Isik, Turkey; Mr. Fred Mulley, United Kingdom; and Dr. Harold Brown, United States. Belgium was represented by Ambassador Schuurmans, the Belgian Permanent Representative to NATO. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Joseph M.A.H. Luns, Secretary General of NATO. The Chairman, Military Committee and the Major NATO Commanders were also present.

The maintenance of the Alliance's security through modernization of NATO's theatre nuclear forces was considered by the Ministers in the light of the continuing strengthening of the Soviet nuclear capabilities facing the Alliance, particularly in their inter-continental and longer range theatre systems. Ministers took, as their point of reference, the guidance provided by Heads of State and Government at the Washington Summit in May 1978 that, until such time as it proves possible to achieve a satisfactory military balance at lower levels of forces through realistic and verifiable force reduction agreements, the Allies will continue to devote the resources necessary to modernize and strengthen Alliance forces to the extent required for deterrence and defence. Ministers reaffirmed that the maintenance of the deterrent and defensive capabilities of the Alliance and the negotiation of arms control agreements are complementary ways of ensuring NATO's continued security. They re-emphasized that progress in arms control must entail willingness on the part of the Warsaw Pact to show restraint in its continuing military build-up.

Following a briefing by the United States Secretary of Defence on the nuclear balance and related issues, Ministers discussed current and projected developments in nuclear forces and the implications of on-going arms control negotiations. They welcomed progress in the SALT II negotiations. However, they underlined the need for the Soviet Union to show restraint in the development and deployment of nuclear forces which threaten NATO Europe.

Ministers were briefed on and discussed the military aspects of United States and NATO nuclear employment planning.

Ministers reiterated the need for maintaining the essential linkage between the strategic nuclear, theatre nuclear and conventional forces which form the NATO triad for deterrence and defence. They continued their consideration of necessary short and long-term improvements to the theatre nuclear force posture in Europe and directed that studies and planning in this area should continue.

The United States Secretary of Defence informed Ministers of the contents of a statement made by the United States Government on 18th October in connection with the modernization of battlefield nuclear weapons.

An invitation from Secretary of Defence Brown to hold the 25th NPG Ministerial meeting in the United States in Spring 1979 was accepted with pleasure.

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