Updated: 25-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


December, 1980

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Indivisibility of détente - Poland - Berlin - Afghanistan - Iraq-Iran War - Middle East - Warsaw Pact military build-up - Economic assistance to less advanced member countries - South-Eastern flank - CSCE - Conference on Disarmament in Europe - Arms control and disarmament - MBFR - SALT - TNF modernization - Extracts from the Minutes.


The North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 11th and 12th December 1980, against a background of growing uncertainty and tension in international relations.

Ministers agreed on the following:

  1. The continuing military build-up of the Soviet Union, its clear willingness, as seen in Afghanistan, to use force in disregard of the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and international law, and the Soviet menace which hangs over Poland give cause for grave concern to the members of the Alliance and to the entire international community.

    Allied strength and cohesion are thus essential to the maintenance of stability and peace. United in purpose, the Allies are determined to meet any challenge to the freedom and well-being of their peoples and to make the efforts and sacrifices required for deterrence and defence. In this way they do their part to preserve the basis for détente.

    Genuine détente must be worldwide in scope and indivisible. It can succeed only if the Soviet Union strictly abides, in Europe and elsewhere, by the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Helsinki Final Act in their entirety. Allied efforts to persuade the Soviet Union to change its policy from one of intervention in the affairs of other states to one of respect for their sovereignty serve the general interest of the international community. The Allies will keep open channels of communication and be ready to respond positively to concrete steps by the Soviet Union to cease aggressive activities and to restore the basis for constructive East-West relations. In this connection, the Allies remain committed to the pursuit of effective, balanced and verifiable measures of disarmament and arms control.

  2. détente has brought appreciable benefits in the field of East-West co-operation and exchange. But it has been seriously damaged by Soviet actions. It could not survive if the Soviet Union were again to violate the basic rights of any state to territorial integrity and independence. Poland should be free to decide its own future. The Allies will respect the principle of non-intervention and strongly urge others to do likewise. Any intervention would fundamentally alter the entire international situation. The Allies would be compelled to react in the manner which the gravity of this development would require. Therefore, the Council will keep the situation under close and continuous review. At the same time, genuine Soviet efforts to restore the confidence necessary for détente will meet with a ready response from the Allies.

  3. It is important, particularly in the present circumstances, that the calm situation in and around Berlin should be maintained and that the positive effects of the Quadripartite Agreement of 3rd September 1971 should not be impaired by unilateral measures. The international situation as a whole cannot fail to be affected by the situation in Berlin.

    Recent measures introduced by the German Democratic Republic have substantially reduced inner-German travel and have had a particularly adverse effect on travel and visits of Berliners. This development constitutes a setback in the relationship between the two German states. The Allies support the efforts of the Federal Republic of Germany to achieve the withdrawal of these measures so that relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic could develop further in the interest of stability and co-operation in Europe and of those affected.

  4. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is unacceptable. One year after the Soviet invasion, the Afghan people still suffer from repression by foreign troops on their soil. The use of military force by the Soviet government to impose its will on the people of a neutral and non-aligned country belies its oft-repeated professions of friendships for the nations of the Third World, creating distrust about its future intentions. An overwhelming majority of the United Nations General Assembly has again called for the immediate removal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan. Despite the efforts of the Islamic Conference, the quest for a political settlement has made no progress because of Soviet intransigence. Such a settlement must provide for the total withdrawal of Soviet troops and enable the Afghan people to exercise fully their rights of independence and self determination.

    More than one million Afghans have been forced by the Soviet occupation to flee their homeland, causing great human suffering and placing a heavy burden on neighbouring countries. In the spirit of the United Nations Resolutions, Allied governments, in common with a number of neutral and non-aligned countries, are contributing to humanitarian aid to alleviate the plight of these refugees.

  5. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has major implications for the whole of South-West Asia, an area of paramount interest to the international community and the security of the Allies. Members of the Alliance are prepared to work for the reduction of tension in the area and, individually, to contribute to peace and stability for the region, while protecting their vital economic and strategic interests.

    The Allies deplore the war between Iraq and Iran, which causes further concern for the stability of the affected region. In this connection, they underline the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation.

    Recalling positions previously taken by the Council, the Allies reaffirm the need for early achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  6. The enormous growth over a number of years of Warsaw Pact and in particular Soviet military power gives rise to legitimate concern in Europe and throughout the world. This buildup contradicts the frequent assurances by the Warsaw Pact countries that their aim is not military superiority.

    Under present circumstances there is particular need to look to deterrence and defence. The Allies will therefore take, individually or collectively, the defensive measures to meet the growth of Warsaw Pact capabilities and to deter any aggression.

  7. The strength of the Alliance lies not only in its defensive capability but also in its cohesion and the readiness of its members to give one another political and economic support. In particular they have greatly benefited from the practice of frank and timely consultations on a broad range of issues. They will vigorously pursue this practice with the object of underscoring their solidarity on all matters affecting their common interests. They will continue Allied programmes to strengthen the economies of the less advanced member countries, undertaken in the spirit of Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which have gained additional significance and urgency.

    The deterioration of the situation in South-West Asia underlines the necessity and urgency of enhancing the defence posture of the South-Eastern flank and of maintaining stability and a balance of power in the Mediterranean region as a whole.

    The cohesion of the South-Eastern flank has been strongly reinforced by recent positive decisions regarding this area, and the capability of the Alliance for deterrence and defence has thereby considerably improved. These developments may, at the same time, be considered as a welcome step to the restoration of mutual confidence between Greece and Turkey, and they enhance the prospects for success of the bilateral efforts of the two governments.

  8. The Allies attach importance to the process initiated by the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) as a valuable framework for improving security and developing co-operation in Europe on the basis of full implementation of the commitments entered into at Helsinki. They remain committed to the continuation of the CSCE process beyond the present Followup Meeting in Madrid. This meeting is taking place in the shadow of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the continuing suppression of human rights in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, which are clear violations of the principles proclaimed in the Helsinki Final Act. In condemning these violations, as during the thorough discussion of implementation, the Allies are seeking to preserve the integrity of the Final Act, to which they remain dedicated.

    In the same spirit, they are presenting important new proposals in all areas covered by the Final Act, including human rights, human contacts and information. In the security area, the Allies strongly support expanding and strengthening confidence building measures within a framework that ensures they will be militarily significant, verifiable and applicable to the entire continent of Europe, including all of the European territory of the Soviet Union. In this regard, recalling their previous declaration in Ankara, the Allies took note that the proposal of the Government of France concerning a mandate for a Conference on Disarmament in Europe, under the aegis of the CSCE, has been tabled in Madrid where it has been welcomed by many delegations.

  9. Sharing the widespread international concern at the continuing increase in armed forces and armaments throughout the world, Allied governments have put forward proposals in various fora in which arms control and disarmament are discussed. These efforts are made more difficult if agreements already in force are not fully observed. In this connection, the Allies welcome all constructive efforts by the contracting parties aimed at ensuring the effectiveness of existing accords. The negotiation of new agreements must provide for adequate verification. The Allies will continue to seek agreements establishing greater security for all nations at lower levels of forces and armaments within the United Nations framework and elsewhere.

  10. The Allies engaged in the negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions remain determined to achieve a more stable and equitable balance of forces in Central Europe through reductions in two phases leading to genuine parity in military manpower in the form of a common collective ceiling, based on agreed data. The Western proposal of December 1979 provides a realistic framework for a mutually beneficial Phase I agreement involving United States and Soviet reductions and associated measures. Although the Eastern countries have recently made some limited moves towards an interim Phase I agreement, as proposed by the West, they have regrettably still not provided the information necessary to reach agreement on the size of the forces of the Soviet Union in Central Europe, which is an essential prerequisite to a Phase I agreement. Nor have the Eastern countries responded adequately to Western proposals concerning associated measures which are designed to ensure verification of force reductions and limitations and to enhance stability

  11. Assuring strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union is central to the security of the Alliance. The Alliance supports further negotiations and remains deeply committed to the SALT process as a way of achieving meaningful mutual limitations on United States and Soviet strategic nuclear forces that will help enhance Western security and preserve East-West stability.


  1. The Allies who participated in the decision of 12th December, 1979 on Theatre Nuclear Forces (TNF), having received a second report from the Special Consultative Group on progress in arms control involving TNF, expressed their satisfaction with the close and fruitful consultations which have taken place within the Group. They noted with satisfaction the serious and substantive character of the recent discussions between the United States and the Soviet Union. These Allies expressed their support for the United States negotiating approach, elaborated in intensive consultations among them on the basis of the December 1979 decision. A date for resumption of US-Soviet exchanges next year will be set through mutual consultations.

    The continuing implementation of the modernization element of the December 1979 decision was noted. The Soviet preponderance in longrange TNF (LRTNF) deployments remains cause for serious concern. The SS-20 bases already identified would alone support more warheads than are planned for this entire modernization programme. Allied solidarity in support of both modernization and arms control involving TNF remains key to achieving progress toward agreed limitation. The scale of NATO's long-range TNF requirements will be examined in the light of concrete results achieved through negotiations.

    The withdrawal of 1,000 United States nuclear warheads from Europe as an integral part of the LRTNF modernization and arms control decision has been completed.

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