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NATO - Nuclear Planning Group


For immediate release

2 December, 1999



1. The Defence Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 2 December 1999.

2. We reaffirmed the enduring importance of the transatlantic link. Developments during this year have emphasised the fundamental importance of collective defence planning as the framework within which national and Alliance requirements are harmonised. Our ongoing presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as Alliance operations to end the repression in Kosovo and to restore stability there could not have been undertaken without our integrated military structure and our well-established mechanisms for collective planning. In the light of the experiences of Kosovo operations and in accordance with the Defence Capabilities Initiative launched by our Heads of State and Government at the Washington Summit we shall ensure that collective defence planning continues to address the requirements needed for the full range of Alliance missions.

3. We reviewed the national defence plans of Allies for the period 2000?2004 and beyond and have adopted a five-year force plan which addresses the requirements of the future security environment. This review focussed particularly on the extent to which Allies' fulfilment of requirements identified as part of the Defence Capabilities Initiative needed to be improved. Defence expenditure plans were also highlighted in our review. All Allies expect continued growth in GDP but, on the basis of current plans, only a few expect to increase defence expenditure. We shall need to keep this aspect under review. We remain determined to seek the resources necessary to ensure that our forces are properly manned, equipped, trained and sustained for the full spectrum of Alliance roles and missions, including through more effective use of available resources. We also recognise the importance of common efforts and multinational, joint and common funding, which contribute to enhanced Alliance cohesion and emphasise solidarity.

4. We also took stock of the work being done to ensure that the planning targets being developed by the NATO Military Authorities, and which we shall be invited to approve as NATO Force Goals next Spring, take full account of the Defence Capabilities Initiative. It is important that, through our force planning mechanisms, Allied defence programmes are developed in full consonance with the work on the Defence Capabilities Initiative and reflect shared responsibilities of the Allies. We look forward to reviewing the draft Force Goals at our next meeting.

5. In accordance with the Washington Summit decisions, an initial exchange of thoughts has taken place within the Alliance on the further adaptation of NATO's defence planning system to incorporate more comprehensively the availability of forces for EU-led operations. We attach the utmost importance to ensuring the cohesion and integrity of the Alliance's defence planning process for the whole range of missions.

6. In this, our first meeting as the Nuclear Planning Group since the Washington Summit, we confirmed the principles underpinning the nuclear forces of the Allies as set out in the new Strategic Concept. These forces continue to have a fundamental political purpose: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war. They play an essential role by ensuring uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the nature of the Allies' response to military aggression, and by providing an essential political and military link between the European and North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe, at the minimum level sufficient to preserve peace and stability. Taking account of the present security situation, we affirmed that the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated by Allies are extremely remote.

7. We emphasized that since 1991, in the context of the improved security environment and in keeping with the Alliance's stated principle of keeping its forces at the minimum sufficient level, NATO has reduced the types and numbers of its sub-strategic nuclear forces by over 85 percent. These reductions included the complete elimination of all nuclear artillery and ground-launched missiles. Furthermore, NATO has significantly relaxed the readiness criteria for nuclear-roled forces.

8. We affirmed that arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation - with the stability, transparency, predictability, lower levels of armaments, and verification they can provide - will continue to play a major role in the achievement of NATO's security objectives. Alliance work in these areas is ongoing as a contribution to the Washington Summit remit. We reviewed evolving threats from proliferant states. We reaffirmed our belief that Alliance forces deter the use of weapons of mass destruction, thus contributing to the Alliance goal of preventing the proliferation of these weapons and their delivery means. All Allies support the central treaties related to disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and are committed to full implementation of these treaties. With a view to the upcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in Spring 2000, we reaffirmed our full support of the Treaty and our continued commitment to efforts aimed at reducing nuclear weapons; we urged all countries which have not yet done so to accede to and fully implement the NPT. We continue to urge the Russian Federation to ratify START II so that the benefits of this treaty can be reaped and negotiations on a START III treaty can be set in train. We continue to support the ratification, early entry into force, and full implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

9. Firmly committed to our partnership with Russia under the NATO-Russia Founding Act, we stand ready to resume reciprocal exchanges with Russia on nuclear weapons issues, and thus we reviewed possible next steps in such consultations. In this context, we note with concern that Russia appears to be moving towards a greater reliance on nuclear forces to ensure its security. We renew our call on Russia to review further its tactical nuclear weapons stockpile with a view toward making significant reductions. We look forward to further consultations on these issues. We welcomed plans by the United States to establish, in cooperation with Russia, a temporary joint Centre for Year 2000 Strategic Stability to deal with possible computer errors in either nation's missile attack warning systems.

This is an important cooperative step towards ensuring overall nuclear safety and security.

10. We are pleased to note that Alliance nuclear forces, command and control systems and nuclear support infrastructure have been thoroughly reviewed and found to be fully compliant with the requirements of the changeover to the next millennium.


*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. ***

Link to subsequent communique on the NATO Nuclear Planning Group.

Link to further general information on nuclear weapons.

Link to main page on Y2K issues.

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