Updated: 27-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


Oct. 1991

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Manfred Wörner


Improved security environment and Alliance transformation - Cooperation with Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe - Review of new Alliance Strategic Concept - Guidelines for future defence, new force posture and streamlining of military command structure - Agreement on sub-strategic nuclear force posture and stockpile level - Reduced reliance on nuclear weapons, especially short-range - No requirement for ground-launched short- range ballistic missiles and artillery - Bush decision and Gorbachev reciprocation on withdrawal and destruction of associated warheads - Withdrawal and partial destruction of tactical nuclear weapons from surface vessels, attack submarines and land-based naval aircraft - Reduction of air- delivered weapons - Total reduction in NATO stockpiles of sub-strategic weapons in Europe of about 80% - Decisions in accordance with policy of maintaining minimum level of nuclear forces - Nuclear weapons continue to be part of Alliance's overall strategy for war prevention - Nuclear roles and basing of sub-strategic nuclear forces as the political and military link to NATO's strategic forces - Bush initiatives on US and Soviet strategic nuclear postures and START Treaty: historic steps for enhanced security and stability - Dialogue with Soviet Union on nuclear policy - Proliferation of nuclear weapons - Control of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union - Alliance security interests - 50th Ministerial meeting of Nuclear Planning Group - Continued review of NATO nuclear posture.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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%.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 Alliance.

  9. 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.

  10. The Spring 1992 NPG Ministerial meeting will be held at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium.

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