Updated: 25-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


May, 1979

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Warsaw Pact military build-up - Interdependence of deterrence and detente - MBFR - SALT - Recent developments in Soviet theatre nuclear capabilities - Soviet strategic capability - Ministerial Guidance - Implementation of LTDP - TNF modernization - Coordinated defence planning - Defence expenditure: efforts to achieve 3% goal - 5-year Infrastructure Programme - Eurogroup - CNAD rationalization efforts - Assistance to Portugal and Turkey - Maintenance of adequate deterrent and defence posture.

  1. The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 15th and 16th May, 1979.

  2. Ministers recalled that during the thirty years since its foundation the North Atlantic Alliance has, despite serious challenges, continued to meet its basic objectives. Foremost amongst these objectives, which remain as important as ever, are the preservation of peace and the integrity of NATO territory, Ministers reaffirmed the political resolve, expressed by members of the Alliance at the Summit in May 1978, to meet the challenges to their security posed by the continuing momentum of the Warsaw Pact military build-up.

  3. Ministers confirmed that, in keeping with its policy of deterrence and defence, the Alliance views detente and arms control as necessary complements to the safeguarding of its security by military means. Accordingly its members are engaged in a series of negotiations to reduce the risks of armed conflict by arms limitations and control. They emphasized once again that deterrence and detente are interdependent and are designed to maintain unimpaired security for its members.

  4. Ministers took note of the latest developments in the negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions. They stressed the importance they attach to a successful outcome of the Vienna negotiations and reaffirmed the principle that NATO forces be maintained and not reduced except in the context of a Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction agreement, which must in no way diminish the collective security of the Alliance.

  5. Ministers welcomed the agreement in principle reached between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. They agreed that equitable limitation of the nuclear weapons capabilities of the Soviet Union and the United States will improve the security of NATO. Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the past record of close and full consultations within the Alliance on issues arising from these talks, confirmed the importance of continuing close consultation, and looked forward to the opportunity to study in depth the official SALT II text once the treaty is signed.

  6. In the light of a military briefing and a statement by the Chairman of the Military Committee, Ministers reviewed recent developments in the military capabilities of the Warsaw Pact. They noted with concern that many trends in the military balance of power continue to favour the Warsaw Pact; and that progressive force improvements permit the Soviet Union and its allies to maintain and enhance a posture well in excess of defensive requirements and from which it could initiate offensive operations with little preparation at a time and place of its own choosing.

  7. Ministers expressed concern about recent developments in the nuclear field, particularly Certain new developments in Soviet theatre nuclear capabilities. Specifically, the SS-20 missile introduces a new dimension of threat in the theatre nuclear field. For the first time a weapon on the continental scale can reach all the territories of Western Europe with multiple warheads from mobile launchers based in the Soviet Union. Also from the point of view of its greater accuracy this new weapon constitutes a qualitative change in the Soviet arsenal. Ministers also noted improvements in new Soviet intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, all with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV), which have enhanced substantially the Soviet strategic capability.

  8. Ministers noted that in the conventional field improvements in the capabilities of Warsaw Pact forces continue unabated. For the ground forces these include improvements in readiness, mobility and firepower; for naval forces the entry into service of the more advanced submarines and the construction of new classes of major surface combatants; and for the air forces the capability to carry out deep penetration operations from home bases at higher speeds and lower altitudes and continued re-equipment with modern aircraft and new weapon systems. Ministers reiterated their concern at the growing global capabilities of the Soviet naval and air forces which permit the Soviet Union increasingly to expand and develop its influence outside the NATO area.

  9. Ministers noted that these massive Soviet defence efforts are backed by resource allocations involving increases in expenditure of 4-5% a year in real terms and absorbing 11-13% of their Gross National Product.

  10. Against this background, Ministers approved new Ministerial Guidance as the basic political directive for all defence planning activities, both national and international, in NATO. In this Guidance they noted with satisfaction the steps already taken to bring about improvements in the Alliance's defence and deterrent posture necessary for undiminished security. They welcomed the vigorous steps taken in the refinement of programmes to ensure an effective follow-through to the Long-Term Defence Programme approved by Heads of State and Government at the Washington Summit in May 1978. They reaffirmed that the Long-Term Defence Programme is a moderate but firm response to the military build-up of the Warsaw Pact, and reflects a determination to use Alliance defence resources to maximum effect by greater co-operation and by long-term co-ordinated planning. They agreed to give their continued support to steps necessary for the timely implementation of the many individual measures comprising the Long-Term Defence Programme.

  11. In providing, as part of Ministerial Guidance, instructions for the development of new force goals relating to the whole spectrum of NATO's military needs within the framework of the Alliance's defence planning system, Ministers state that NATO's defence planning must continue to be based primarily on assessments of the Warsaw Pact's capabilities rather than assumptions about its intentions; and that NATO must continue to emphasize the strengthening of its conventional forces while maintaining credible capabilities within and linkage between the strategic nuclear and theatre nuclear force elements of the NATO Triad and avoiding any lowering of the nuclear threshold.

  12. In the light of the substantial programmes under way in the Soviet Union to modernise and expand its theatre nuclear forces, particularly the long-range component, Ministers reaffirmed that it would be necessary to maintain and continue to modernise theatre nuclear forces. In this respect, they also discussed the modernisation of NATO's longer range theatre based nuclear forces in support of the Alliance's strategy of forward defence and flexible response. They emphasized the need for the parallel consideration of theatre nuclear forces modernisation and arms control and stressed that no increase in overall reliance on nuclear systems or departure from existing NATO policy is envisaged.

  13. Ministers agreed that there is a need for NATO to extend progressively its co-ordinated defence planning into both a broader coverage and a longer time-frame, and that procedures should be developed which would allow countries who project their own defence planning increasingly into the longer term, to look to NATO to provide a NATO framework within which national decisions can be prepared and taken.

  14. In the light of their discussions of the overall situation, Ministers agreed that nations should intensify their efforts to implement fully for the whole planning period the resource guidance of 1977, which was endorsed by Heads of State and Government in Washington in May 1978 and in which it was decided to aim at making available resources which would allow for annual increases of defence spending in the region of 3% in real terms.

  15. Recognising that effective operations of NATO forces in peace and war depend heavily on the availability of necessary infrastructure facilities and that the NATO commonly funded Infrastructure Programme is assuming an increasingly important role in providing these facilities, Ministers reached agreement on the common funding of a new five-year programme at a substantially increased level. At the same time they approved a new category of infrastructure works to become eligible for common funding, the Reinforcement Support Category, as an important contribution towards the implementation of plans for the rapid reinforcement of Allied Command Europe in periods of rising tension or crisis.

  16. Ministers took note of the continuing work of the Eurogroup aimed at achieving still closer co-operation in the defence field within the framework of the Alliance. They welcomed a statement by the Chairman, Mr. Neset Akmandor, Defence Minister of Turkey, which drew attention to recent developments in a number of fields, including logistics, training, communications, equipment co-operation, force structures, medical co-operation and financial planning. They expressed their full support for the role of the Eurogroup in fostering European cohesion to the benefit of the whole Alliance.

  17. Ministers welcomed the increased efforts towards rationalization. particularly those being made by the Conference of National Armaments Directors and its subsidiary bodies to pursue co-operative programmes in the development and acquisition of equipment, many of them in relation to opportunities in this field arising from the Long-Term Defence Programme. In this connection, they noted with satisfaction the establishment of project groups on a NATO Identification System and a NATO Maritime Electronic Warfare Support Group. They also welcomed further progress achieved in testing and refining armaments planning procedures and in the transatlantic dialogue, noting with particular interest proposals covering dual production programmes.

  18. Ministers discussed the urgent need for external assistance to Portugal and Turkey which had been highlighted in the current force goals established by the Alliance and by the Long-Term Defence Programme, both of which emphasized the difficulties of these two countries in fulfilling their commitments in the light of the very severe economic constraints bearing on their defence expenditures. They reviewed the ongoing efforts to assist in the provision of military aid to Turkey and Portugal and noted the progress made towards modernising the Portuguese armed forces. Ministers agreed that the efforts to provide assistance, both military and economic, to Portugal and Turkey should be pursued vigorously, with the widest possible participation of member countries, in order to enable these two Allies to make their full contribution to the common defence. They called for a report on the progress achieved to be prepared for their December meeting.

  19. In conclusion, Ministers reaffirmed that the freedom and welfare of the peoples of the Alliance as well as a successful pursuit of detente rest on the maintenance by NATO of an adequate deterrent and defence posture. They recognised that this is inseparable from political solidarity and mutual support among the Allies and requires that each be prepared to contribute an effort commensurate with its capabilities to NATO's one and indivisible common defence.

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