- The Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) of the North Atlantic
Alliance met at Taormina, Italy, on 17th and 18th October, 1991.
Iceland attended as an observer.
- Our discussions have taken place against the background
of the much improved security environment in Europe and the
transformation of the Alliance that began in London more than a
year ago. We warmly welcome the recent decisive steps towards
democracy and freedom in the Soviet Union and opportunities for
increased co-operation and contacts between the Alliance and
countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
- We have taken these developments into account as we
reviewed the emerging new Alliance Strategic Concept, including
measures to support these positive developments, in preparation
for the Summit of Heads of State and Government in Rome on 7th
and 8th November, 1991. We continued our discussions on
guidelines for future defence, the emerging new force posture and
the streamlining of the military command structure, all of which
are essential elements in the process of adapting our Alliance
to the new security environment.
- The principal objective of our meeting was to agree a
new sub-strategic nuclear force posture and stockpile level which
responds to the changing security environment in Europe. In
adapting our nuclear policy to the needs of the 1990s we were
guided by the conclusions of the London Summit last year that the
Alliance could reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons and in
particular those of the shortest ranges. Events since then have
confirmed the validity of these conclusions, but allow us to go
even further; there is no longer any requirement for nuclear
ground-launched short-range ballistic missiles and artillery.
In this context, we welcomed President Bush's recent decision,
and the reciprocal response by President Gorbachev, to withdraw
and destroy the associated nuclear warheads worldwide. We also
welcomed the decision to withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons
from surface vessels, attack submarines and land-based naval
aircraft, and to destroy many of these weapons.
- In addition to the elimination of ground-launched
nuclear systems, the number of air-delivered weapons in NATO's
European stockpile will be greatly reduced. The total reduction
in the current NATO stockpile of sub-strategic weapons in Europe
will be roughly 80%.
- These unilateral measures, which are additional to the
substantial reductions already made in recent years, accord with
our long-standing policy of maintaining only the minimum level
of nuclear forces required to preserve peace and stability.
Nuclear weapons will continue for the foreseeable future to
fulfil their essential role in the Alliance's overall strategy,
since conventional forces alone cannot ensure war prevention.
We will therefore continue to base effective and up-to-date sub-
strategic nuclear forces in Europe, but they will consist solely
of dual-capable aircraft, with continued widespread participation
in nuclear roles and peacetime basing by Allies. Sub-strategic
nuclear forces committed to NATO continue to provide the
necessary political and military link to NATO's strategic nuclear
forces and an important demonstration of Alliance solidarity.
- President Bush's initiatives also include far-reaching
proposals aimed at changing the strategic nuclear postures of the
United States and the Soviet Union, to which there has also been
a constructive Soviet response. These initiatives taken as a
whole, together with the recently agreed START Treaty, represent
a historic step towards enhanced security and stability. They
will result in smaller nuclear arsenals and a dramatic change in
the speed of transformation to a more secure and co-operative
relationship. In this regard, we are convinced that a dialogue
with the Soviet Union on nuclear policy would result in improved
understanding and increased co-operation.
- We discussed the growing problem of the proliferation
of nuclear weapons, which remains a matter of great concern. We
also discussed the crucial issue of the control of nuclear
weapons in the Soviet Union and welcomed the statements by the
Soviet leadership about their plans to ensure the safe,
responsible and reliable control of these weapons. This matter
clearly affects the security interests of the entire Alliance.
We look forward to further steps by the Soviet Union to meet our
concerns and to continuing timely consultations within the
- This was the 50th Ministerial meeting of the Nuclear
Planning Group, a forum which has made a major contribution to
Alliance consultation on nuclear matters in the pursuit of peace
and security. The meeting has taken place at a time when a safer
and more stable security structure is developing, with openness
and co-operation becoming the norm. Our proposals for a
drastically reduced and restructured NATO nuclear posture reflect
this most welcome prospect. As the security situation evolves,
we shall continue to review the nuclear policy and posture of the
Alliance, as we have done over the past 25 years.
- The Spring 1992 NPG Ministerial meeting will be held
at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium.