Updated: 13-Jun-2006 Ministerial Communiqus


Issued at the
Meeting of the
North Atlantic
Council held
in Istanbul,
9 June 1994

Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council/
North Atlantic Cooperation Council,
Istanbul, Turkey, 9-10 June 1994

Alliance Policy Framework
on Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Proliferation Challenge

  1. The statement of the UN Security Council on 31st January 1992 affirmed that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) constituted a threat to international peace and security. The Alliance's Strategic Concept, adopted by NATO Heads of State and Government at the Rome Summit in November 1991, had identified proliferation of WMD and ballistic missiles a problem requiring special consideration. Heads of State and Government of NATO countries at the 1994 Brussels Summit stressed that proliferation of WMD and their delivery means poses a threat to international security and is a matter of concern to the Alliance. Furthermore, they directed NATO to develop a policy framework to consider how to reinforce ongoing prevention efforts and how to reduce the proliferation threat and protect against it.

  2. The Summit initiative reflects the fact that there are developments in the evolving security environment that give rise to the possibility of increased WMD proliferation. These include the following:

    • some States (e.g., Iraq, North Korea) have not complied with, and even wilfully disregarded their international non- proliferation commitments, in particular those stemming from NPT membership;

    • major political changes on the European continent following the break-up of the former Soviet Union have potential proliferation implications that require close attention;

    • a number of States on the periphery of the Alliance continue in their attempts to develop or acquire the capability to produce WMD and their delivery means or to acquire illegally such systems;

    • non-State actors, such as terrorists, may also try to acquire WMD capabilities;

    • ever-increasing trade in today's world economy, including transfers of dual-use commodities, is leading to greater diffusion of technology, which complicates efforts to detect and prevent transfers of materials and technology for the purpose of developing WMD and their delivery means;

    • similarly, the growth of indigenously developed WMD-related technology has also made proliferation more difficult to control;

    • in addition, there is the risk that a proliferator might seek to profit or gain political benefit by selling WMD and their delivery means, relevant technology and expertise. Such a trade could result in Allies being threatened by an adversary that obtained WMD capabilities developed in areas beyond NATO's periphery.

  1. Current international efforts focus on the prevention of WMD and missile proliferation through a range of international treaties and regimes. The most important norm- setting treaties are the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). With regard to the NPT, efforts are currently focussed on unconditional and indefinite extension of the Treaty in 1995, universal adherence to the Treaty and enhancing its verification and safeguards regime. For the CWC, the most immediate goal is its rapid entry into force. The BTWC can be strengthened through efforts in the field of transparency and verification. The Allies fully support these efforts.

  2. The aforementioned treaties are complemented on the supply side by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Zangger Committee, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. These regimes should be reinforced through the broadest possible adherence to them and enhancement of their effectiveness.

  3. The Allies furthermore support other relevant efforts in the field of non-proliferation and arms control, such as the negotiation of a universal and verifiable Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the negotiation of a possible Convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear explosive purposes.

  4. The Alliance policy on proliferation is aimed at supporting, reinforcing and complementing, not at duplicating or substituting the aforementioned treaties and regimes.

NATO's Role

  1. In accordance with the Strategic Concept, NATO's role is not only to defend its members' territory but also to provide one of the indispensable foundations for a stable security environment in Europe. The Alliance also serves as a transatlantic forum for Allied consultations on any issues that affect their vital interests, including possible developments posing risks for members' security, and for appropriate coordination of their efforts in fields of common concern.

  2. A stable international order with a broad base of shared values is key to Allied security. WMD proliferation can undermine the achievement of such a stable international order. Conversely, lack of confidence in the international order can prompt States to acquire WMD to meet perceived threats.

  3. WMD and their delivery means can pose a direct military risk to the member States of the Alliance and to their forces.

  4. NATO's approach to proliferation will therefore have both a political and a defence dimension.

The Political Dimension

  1. The principal non-proliferation goal of the Alliance and its members is to prevent proliferation from occuring or, should it occur, to reverse it through diplomatic means. In this regard, NATO seeks to support, without duplicating, work already underway in other international fora and institutions. Accordingly, and in keeping with NATO's role as a transatlantic forum for consultation, Allies will:

    • assess the potential proliferation risk presented by States on NATO's periphery, as well as relevant developments in areas beyond NATO's periphery;

    • consult regularly on WMD proliferation threats and related issues and coordinate current Alliance activities that involve aspects of WMD proliferation issues;

    • examine whether there are ways to contribute, through diplomatic or technical measures, to the implementation and strengthening of international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation norms and agreements. In particular, Allies will:

    • support efforts to broaden participation in international non-proliferation fora and activities;

    • continue to share information on their various efforts to support the safe and secure dismantlement of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union;

    • consider relevant initiatives that Allies might undertake to support non- proliferation objectives;

    • consult within the NACC framework with NACC and PfP Partners with the aim of fostering a common understanding of, and approach to the WMD proliferation problem, taking into account efforts in this field in other fora, in particular the different export control groups.

The Defence Dimension

  1. Recent events in Iraq and North Korea have demonstrated that WMD proliferation can occur despite international non-proliferation norms and agreements. As a defensive Alliance, NATO must therefore address the military capabilities needed to discourage WMD proliferation and use, and if necessary, to protect NATO territory, populations and forces.

  2. NATO will therefore:

    • examine in detail the current and potential threat to Allies posed by WMD proliferation, taking into consideration major military/technological developments;

    • examine the implications of proliferation for defence planning and defence capabilities of NATO and its members, and consider what new measures may be required in the defence area;

    • seek, if necessary, to improve defence capabilities of NATO and its members to protect NATO territory, populations and forces against WMD use, based on assessments of threats (including non-State actors), Allied military doctrine and planning, and Allied military capabilities;

    • consider how its defence posture can support or might otherwise influence diplomatic efforts to prevent proliferation before it becomes a threat or to reverse it.

  3. This Policy Framework will be kept under review in order to reflect developments in the proliferation field and the evolution of non- proliferation policies.

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