Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Memorandum from the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy


  1.  As it draws towards its 60th Anniversary in 2009, NATO has changed beyond recognition from the Cold War Alliance, and the Security Challenges it faces have also changed dramatically in a few short years. The Alliance must now redefine itself in a profound debate on its mission and purpose.

  2.  Defining a new role for NATO encompasses an extremely difficult series of questions as to its purpose and mission, and the means that it uses to carry out that mission. Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and others have called for adoption of a new strategic concept, based in the security lessons of the 21st century, lessons that have been learned on the battlefields of Kosovo and Afghanistan, as well as in the 9/11 attacks and the spread of weapons of mass destruction across the globe.

  3.  Any drafting of a new Strategic Concept will entail consideration of the role of nuclear weapons in Alliance defence strategy, and whether NATO should continue to rely on nuclear weapons in its defence posture. It must also mean a consideration of the ways in which arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament can contribute to Alliance security through nuclear, chemical and biological weapons threat reduction and elimination.

  4.  Current NATO nuclear weapons policy and practice raise a number of concerns. NATO must address these concerns, and resolve the problems that they pose for the Alliance.

  5.  NATO has been drawn into adopting US counterproliferation policy, at the expense of the more balanced non-proliferation approach to WMD threats. This is deeply controversial within the Alliance, and has undermined NATO solidarity. Many European nations are concerned that a pre-emptive or preventive military approach to proliferation, as used in Iraq, is inappropriate and reduces Alliance security rather than enhancing it.

  6.  The policy of counterproliferation has increased risks, or helped stimulate new threats to NATO members at the periphery of Europe, as some countries have sought WMD capabilities to deter NATO or NATO members. This has undermined the global non-proliferation regime. Tactical nuclear weapons, including the US nuclear free fall bombs deployed in conjunction with NATO, are by their nature portable and relatively accessible, which increases their attractiveness for terrorists, while their operational flexibility makes them especially destabilising.

  7.  NATO policy further undermines the global non-proliferation regime through the practice of nuclear sharing. This programme allows nominally non-nuclear states to be equipped for nuclear missions, and to train in the deployment and use of nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, and especially before the NPT came into force, this policy could be portrayed as restricting proliferation by extending deterrence. In the very different geostrategic context of today, the policy is perceived as undermining the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and providing an excuse to others to proliferate nuclear weapons in a similar fashion.

  8.  NATO is still primarily configured for territorial defence of Europe, and is proving to be poorly adapted to the missions which it is already undertaking, and is likely to undertake in the future. The nuclear defence policies of NATO are a relic of the cold war configuration, and complicate NATO efforts to genuinely transform itself into a security provider as part of the network of global institutions.

  9.  The Acronym Institute therefore recommends that the time has come for the first fundamental revision of NATO's Strategic Concept since the end of the Cold War. Of particular relevance to the Defence Committee's inquiry:

    —    The Committee should endorse the view of Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer and recommend that NATO draft a new Strategic Concept to be adopted at the 2009 NATO 60th Anniversary Summit. The Committee should recommend that a fundamental re-examination of the role of nuclear weapons in defence strategy, and of the suitability of NATO nuclear deterrence policies in the new security environment should be a major part of the redrafting of the Strategic Concept.

    —    The Committee should recommend that the use of nuclear weapons in counterproliferation missions should be explicitly rejected by NATO. Such missions would be incompatible with the NPT, international law and Alliance security as a whole.

    —    The Committee should recommend that HMG should lead NATO in an immediate reinvigoration of its policies on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament as part of a comprehensive strategy for nuclear, biological and chemical threat reduction. The withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, and an end to the role of US and UK Trident forces in NATO defence policy should be part of this arms control process.

    —    The Committee should recommend the immediate termination of NATO nuclear sharing arrangements and support international calls for the withdrawal and elimination of all tactical nuclear weapons.

    —    The Committee should recommend that Her Majesty's Government, as part of its commitment to non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, should initiate negotiation of a new Strategic Concept for NATO, including the termination of all nuclear elements in joint strategy and doctrine; and should join with other key NATO members to emphasise that arms control and non-proliferation are the only long-term, sustainable mechanisms for reducing and eliminating WMD threats.


  10.  In November 2006, NATO Heads of State and Government met at the Riga Summit, ostensibly to plot out a course for the Alliance for the coming years. In fact, Riga turned out to be an exercise in papering over cracks, and so failed to provide the much-needed debate for deciding on the future membership and core purposes of the Alliance at the beginning of the 21st century. Now, only months later, NATO members find themselves obliged to begin rethinking the future of the Alliance all over again. Defining a new role for NATO encompasses an extremely difficult series of questions, and the Alliance is currently very deeply engaged in day-to-day management of the security situation in Afghanistan, which has proved distracting. The Alliance must now manage to continue day-to-day operations and simultaneously redefine itself in a profound debate on its mission and purpose.

Comprehensive Political Guidance (CPG)

  11.  The Alliance did look to the future in a half-hearted fashion in Riga. NATO Heads of State and Government approved and published the Comprehensive Political Guidance (CPG), previously agreed by Foreign Ministers in June 2006. This document is short, bland and somewhat self-contradictory. The CPG came about as, in the years following the previous Summit in Istanbul, it was clear that there was insufficient common ground between member states to allow negotiation of a new strategic concept. The CPG reconfirms the 1999 Strategic Concept which "described the evolving security environment in terms that remain valid", but the two greatest threats to NATO identified in the CPG are terrorism and the spread of WMD. The latter received mention in the 1999 document, but the threat of terrorism was almost completely absent. While the CPG claims to provide guidance for the next ten to fifteen years, many commentators (and indeed NATO officials) have said that it is little more than a stop-gap until a new Strategic Concept can be developed.

Drafting a new Strategic Concept

  12.  At the Munich Security Conference in February 2007, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer voiced his opinion that NATO's leaders "should endorse a new strategic concept" based in "lessons of 21st century security" learned in Kosovo and Afghanistan. These lessons, de Hoop Scheffer told his audience, "need to be enshrined in our guiding documents" so they can be fully implemented in future operations. Spokespeople for de Hoop Scheffer have indicated that a new Strategic Concept should be agreed at the Summit to be held in 2009,on the occasion of the Alliance's 60th Anniversary.

  13.  As the new Strategic Concept debate begins, the first area of rethinking is at the conceptual level, trying to provide an intellectual basis for future alliance roles and missions. Some NATO officials are questioning the centrality of the Article V territorial mutual mission to NATO's identity, questioning whether Article V is still important to the Alliance, and offering completely new interpretations of what it is about. NATO officials posit a world where the threat of massive conventional and nuclear attack has gone, and there is no sign that any enemy could emerge that would come close to matching the former Soviet threat. In this model, if NATO has an Article V mission it is against far more diffuse threats—counter-terrorism (including defending against the threat of terrorists armed with nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological weapons), missile defence, managing the destabilizing effects of migration, and even guaranteeing energy security and filling a role in counter-narcotics operations. This approach will require a rethinking of the role of nuclear weapons within the Alliance's defence posture. In the absence of threats which are susceptible to traditional notions of nuclear deterrence, Alliance leaders must reconsider the role of nuclear weapons in both policy and strategy and determine whether they have any useful role today at all. As the Secretary General has said, this will necessitate a fundamental reconsideration of the mission and purpose of NATO.

  14.  Previous rewrites of the Strategic Concept in the post-Cold War period have represented incremental change, rather than wholesale adaptation to a post-Cold War environment. The end of the Warsaw Pact and then the fall of the Soviet Union brought about the reduction and then disappearance of the major military threat to NATO. Strategic Concept rewrites did go some way to recognizing this fact. However, even in the 1999 Strategic Concept, territorial defence of NATO member states against a major conventional threat—the Article V mission—remained central to NATO's existence. As the 1999 Strategic Concept says "NATO's essential and enduring purpose, set out in the Washington Treaty, is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means."

  15.  Some efforts were made to redefine the concept of "territorial defence", particularly since in 1999, when the Washington DC Summit approved its latest Strategic Concept, NATO was actually engaged in a war with Serbia over Kosovo and a long-standing peacekeeping operation in Bosnia Herzegovina. So the Alliance added that "[t]he achievement of this aim can be put at risk by crisis and conflict affecting the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. The Alliance therefore not only ensures the defence of its members but contributes to peace and stability in this region." [16]There was at that time no consensus for a NATO role further abroad, something which was to begin to change in the wake of the attacks of 9/11.

An Expeditionary Alliance?

  16.  Some believe that NATO's main role in future will be as an organizer of voluntary missions beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. As President Bush told an audience in Riga last November, "Today, the Soviet threat is gone. And under the able leadership of the Secretary General, NATO is transforming from a static alliance focused on the defense of Europe, into an expeditionary alliance ready to deploy outside of Europe in the defense of freedom. This is a vital mission." [17]NATO in Afghanistan (and in a smaller way in Darfur) is engaged in such missions. NATO officials defend these engagements as important to global security and emphasize their contribution to the security of the Euro-Atlantic region through their undermining of support for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations who seek to attack Alliance members. The fact that there is still a need to defend such missions in an Article V context shows the reluctance with which some NATO nations allowed ISAF to go forward, and also their doubts about involving NATO in such missions in future. There is a consensus for ISAF, but only in the sense that no nation was willing to block the mission against overwhelming pressure for it from the United States. There is no consensus as to the form the mission should take, or as to whether it is a good thing for NATO to undertake. There is absolutely no consensus within the Alliance on President Bush's view that such missions represent the main purpose of NATO in the post-9/11 environment.

Exporting Security and Democracy?

  17.  Senior officials have talked about NATO becoming part of a web of international organizations, where the EU, the World Bank, the UN and others all have important roles to play in stabilizing critical security situations, such as Afghanistan. NATO would provide the military component of an overall task force, but could not operate alone. As the Secretary General said in Munich, "Our security is not just military. NATO must be fully integrated into the emerging network of international institutions and I was very happy with the speech made by Chancellor Merkel this morning because this was one of her key themes." NATO staffers point to Bosnia and Afghanistan as examples of such missions, and say clearly that things can be done better in the future. NATO will, in this view, work with global partners on a wide spread of missions. De Hoop Scheffer puts it thus "Partnership, ladies and gentlemen, is a force multiplier. We must and will be working with nations from across the world to share our security burdens."

Maintaining Article V

  18.  This is still a controversial agenda. Countries such as France would like to see NATO confined to its old role, while the EU takes on more of the new missions. The US Ambassador to NATO, Victoria Nuland, was forced to defend the American position in mid-February 2007 on the BBC. "HARDtalk: What the Europeans fear is that the United States wants to turn NATO into an instrument of US foreign policy, and that their traditional view of NATO is that it should be for the defense of Western Europe, is now threatened ... Ambassador Nuland: ... What we are saying about today's NATO and today's security environment is if we want to be safe at home, if we want our values and the freedoms that we enjoy to be protected, we've got to go out there where the challenges are. HARDtalk: The French Defense Secretary Michele Alliot-Marie says the new global role that America seems to envisage will dilute the natural solidarity between Europeans and North Americans. Ambassador Nuland: ... I do think that the consensus within the alliance that our values are under threat and our security is under threat, less at home and more out there, is growing. Therefore, we need to be where the challenges are or they will come to us." [18]

  19.  It is not only, the states of "old Europe" who are questioning the US agenda. While the UK government told Parliament in December 2006 that there are no conventional threats to the UK or NATO and they foresee none arising, this is not the view amongst new NATO members. Welcoming NATO to Riga, Latvian President Vike-Freiberga, said last November that "[w]e truly are pleased to be now part of that family of secure nations who have entered into an agreement of solidarity, of mutual support, to ensure their security and their sovereignty and their territorial integrity." [19]This is a typical view amongst the new members, still inclined to look very nervously at Russia, where militarism appears to be reviving (in part in reaction to perceived threats from certain US and NATO military developments). Even Germany, under a conservative government, is hesitant about full involvement in far-flung missions, hence their decision to approve troops for Afghanistan only in a peace-keeping role and their refusal to participate in combat in southern Afghanistan.

  20.  Resolving the practical questions that the Alliance faces in Afghanistan and elsewhere could help point the way to future adaptations of the Strategic Concept, and thus to the future direction of NATO. For example, France wishes the NATO Response Force to operate only in extremis, when NATO must force entry to a country to carry out a mission for example, and also to operate only as a 25,000 strong unit. Others would like to see the NRF available in smaller battle groups, and on an ad hoc basis for all missions. This would allow the force to be used to reinforce British and Canadian forces in Helmand province, and would remove some element of national control from troops. This model of NATO command was uncontroversial in the face of the Soviet threat during the Cold War, but is intensely controversial for voluntary missions. The delinking of nuclear weapons from conventional forces under NATO command would do much to make such changes in Alliance practise less controversial.

  21.  The Committee should endorse the view of Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer and recommend that NATO draft a new Strategic Concept to be adopted at the 2009 NATO 60th Anniversary Summit. The Committee should recommend that a fundamental re-examination of the role of nuclear weapons in defence strategy, and of the suitability of NATO nuclear deterrence policies in the new security environment should be a major part of the redrafting of the Strategic Concept.

A Role for nuclear Weapons in the New NATO?

  22.  If NATO is to transform itself, it must address the role of nuclear weapons in Alliance defence strategy. The continuing reliance on nuclear defence creates a number of problems for the Alliance, even making pursuit of its own policies goals more difficult in some cases. These problems include:

    —    Nations in the NATO periphery and far beyond are unlikely to be able to accept NATO as an impartial arbiter of international security while it maintains an arsenal of nuclear weapons that are deployed in Europe and available for use even against non-nuclear nations across the globe. This is more the case as NATO has adopted US counterproliferation policy. The use of nuclear weapons in counterproliferation is deeply controversial in Europe, and undermines Alliance solidarity in the struggle against proliferation.

    —    NATO's retention of its nuclear arsenal, and failure to address nuclear arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, is also a serious impediment to its own stated goal of addressing the threat to NATO of the proliferation of WMD.

    —    NATO nuclear sharing policy undermines the NPT, providing nuclear weapons and training in their use to nominally non-nuclear countries. Other European countries, such as Sweden and Ireland, the New Agenda Coalition of cross-regional states, and the 111-member group of Non-Aligned states parties to the NPT have objected to this policy.

  23.  There has been no serious debate on the role of nuclear weapons in NATO since the withdrawal of thousands of US nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War. Hundreds of free fall bombs still remain assigned for NATO missions and even the use of NATO nations in wartime, and the US and UK allocate Trident forces for NATO missions. The Alliance states a need to defend "NATO deployed forces" against WMD with missile defences, and to be able to "conduct operations taking account of the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction", nuclear, biological or chemical. The Alliance has gradually removed support for arms control and traditional non-proliferation measures from its communiqués.

  24.  There are cracks showing in the Alliance show of solidarity on this issue. German and Norwegian government ideas on nuclear arms control and reductions, set out in their joint article on 11 November 2006, in the Frankfurter Rundschau will probably be pressed to a greater degree than was the case in 1998 and 1999, when such concerns were last raised. Sources from both countries indicate that they are looking for ways to advance concrete proposals based on the article published by Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and others in the Wall Street Journal[20] in early 2007. This argued that US national security now requires that US nuclear weapons should be withdrawn from Europe as part of a reinvigoration of security based on nuclear arms control, leading to nuclear disarmament. The alternative, they noted, is that worsening nuclear proliferation will see the US (and indeed NATO) increasingly unable to act in an ever more dangerous world.

Nuclear Deployments in Europe

  25.  The United States maintains around 480 nuclear weapons in Europe, some under joint control with the host country, and some under sole US disposition (although physically the weapons remain under sole US custody until war breaks out). These weapons are made available to NATO Commanders, but are also allocated to the US European Command, a separate national command structure. They are deployed at airbases in a number of NATO member states. In addition, some US and UK Trident forces are also made available for NATO nuclear planning.
CountryBase Weapons (B61)
US HostTotal
BelgiumKleine Brogel AB 02020
GermanyBüchel AB 02020
Nörvenich AB0 00
Ramstein AB90 40130Source: Natural
ItalyAviano AB50 050Resources Defense
Ghedi Torre AB0 4040Council (NRDC), US
NetherlandsVolkel AB0 2020Nuclear Weapons in
TurkeyAkinci AB0 00Europe, February 2005.
Balikesir AB0 00
Incirlik AB50 4090
United KingdomRAF Lakenheath 1100110
Total300 180480

NATO, Nuclear Weapons and Counterproliferation

  26.  NATO nuclear policy and use doctrine has been changing since the end of the Cold War, heavily influenced by doctrinal changes in the United States. NATO has adopted counterproliferation as a policy, although in a somewhat ambivalent manner. This ambivalence has only grown in the wake of the Iraq War. Many European nations are concerned that a pre-emptive or preventive military policy of counterproliferation does nothing to reduce threats to European security. The Committee expressed concern about the role of counterproliferation in UK nuclear use doctrine, and NATO doctrine in the same area needs also to be examined extremely carefully.

  27.  The Alliance has always adapted its nuclear use doctrines and practices to accommodate prior changes in US strategy. From the US point of view, it can act alone but would find support from NATO nations highly desirable (if not essential), particularly in a crisis. While a nuclear or conventional counterproliferation strike could be launched from US territory, many of the possible targets are on the periphery of NATO. It would, at the least, be advantageous to have NATO support for the use of nuclear weapons, even if only for political cover.

  28.  NATO agreed to begin consideration of the adoption of counterproliferation as an alliance mission at its Brussels Summit in January 1994. This decision came despite serious Allied reservations about the concept of counterproliferation, and to this day NATO does not officially refer to its counterproliferation activities under that name. The 1994 Summit launched a project by the Senior Defence Group on Proliferation (DGP) to establish NATO policies in the area of counterproliferation. That process led to the approval of force goals for NATO nations by defense ministers at their meeting in December 1996. By 1999, counterproliferation formed part of the NATO strategic concept.

  29.  Asserting that proliferation is a threat to NATO nations, and that the threat is manifest in NATO's periphery of North Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, the Strategic Concept states that "The principal non-proliferation goal of the Alliance and its members is to prevent proliferation from occurring or, should it occur, to reverse it through diplomatic means." [21]However, the Strategic Concept continues, stating "that the Alliance's defence posture must have the capability to address appropriately and effectively the risks associated with the proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery, which also pose a potential threat to the Allies' populations, territory, and forces. A balanced mix of forces, response capabilities and strengthened defences is needed." [22]This change in policy was amplified at the 2002 Prague Summit.

  30.  NATO has now fully integrated counterproliferation into its force planning, training, and its strategic concept and related papers. The two differences between NATO and US national policy are that NATO has not openly assigned its forces a preventive or pre-emptive role in counterproliferation, nor has it explicitly given a role to nuclear weapons in counterproliferation. Despite this, the process of adopting this new doctrine into the Alliance strategic concept has led to the adaptation of NATO nuclear policy and operational practice.

Changes in NATO nuclear policies and operational practice

  31.  NATO doctrine has been adapted, as has operational practice, to accommodate the expansion of the range of possible targets and the range of possible enemies identified by the United States as potentially requiring to be deterred by nuclear weapons. US policy on the use of nuclear weapons in regional wars has also had its influence on co-operation with allies. These doctrinal changes affecting nuclear cooperation within NATO, and particularly the nuclear sharing programs, are controversial and barely acknowledged in public.

  32.  NATO policy began to shift early in the 1990s, led by the changes in US policy. From the adoption of the revision to NATO strategy, laid out in the document MC400/1[23] in 1996, NATO no longer maintains detailed plans for the use of nuclear weapons in specific scenarios. Instead, like the US, it has developed a so-called "adaptive targeting capability". This capability is designed to allow major NATO commanders to develop target plans and nuclear weapons employment plans on short notice, during a contingency or crisis, from pre-developed databases containing possible targets. This enables the political declaration that no nation is currently targeted by NATO. This represents a dramatic shift from previous policy, where nuclear weapons were said to counter the conventional imbalance between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

  33.  Concerns have been raised that NATO is adopting US policies on using nuclear weapons against proliferant states which possess, or potentially possess, NBC weapons. This is much more controversial in Europe than in the United States, not least because of the proximity of such states to Europe and the likely environmental and human health effects on European populations if such weapons were to be used against neighbours. This has meant that statements of NATO policy are far more reserved and opaque than related American statements. For example, paragraph 41 of the Alliance's Strategic Concept states that "By deterring the use of NBC weapons, they [Alliance forces] contribute to Alliance efforts aimed at preventing the proliferation of these weapons and their delivery means." [24]

  34.  American sources have said that this formula leaves the door open to the use of nuclear weapons against those possessing, or even thought to possess, nuclear or other NBC weapons and their means of delivery, a doctrine the United States has already adopted in US national nuclear strategy. US spokespeople refuse to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against potential adversaries who use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons or other NBC weapons, even non-state actors. The United States aims to have its national doctrine incorporated into NATO policy. Even if this is not in the interests of other NATO states, historical precedent makes this a likely development.

  35.  Ministers adopted the next revision of the NATO strategy implementation paper, MC400/2 in May 2000. According to one report, [25]the document states that "an appropriate mix of forces"—ie conventional and nuclear forces—should be available to the Alliance when facing a threat by any NBC weapons. This ambiguity would allow the United States to interpret NATO strategy as being in line with US national doctrine. Following the Nuclear Posture Review of 2002, this has been explicitly altered to allow for the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear targets in counterproliferation missions. NATO policy is ambiguous enough to allow others to claim that this is not the case, but non-nuclear countries in the NPT have nonetheless raised concerns.

  36.  There is no public evidence that the MC400 series of papers has as yet been clearly revised to allow for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against NBC weapon states, or non-state actors, as is the case with US military doctrine. It also seems that NATO has yet to completely revise operational procedure in line with US doctrine, a step that is controversial for European NATO nations, and for Canada. One senior European diplomat told the author that "If you think we are going to let the Americans throw nuclear weapons around on Europe's periphery, then you must be crazy." Canadian diplomats at the 2003 PrepCom for the 2005 NPT Review Conference reacted badly to suggestions that NATO had adopted the US practice of targeting all NBC weapons with nuclear weapons. In a statement to the conference Canada stated that:

    As a non-nuclear weapon State member of NATO, Canada takes this opportunity to affirm that the 1999 Strategic Concept has not been re-opened and remains the base for NATO's nuclear policy. Nor is it NATO policy that nuclear weapons may be used against non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT, except as provided in the language of the Negative Security Assurances affirmed in 1995. [26]

  37.  Despite this European and Canadian reluctance, the United States has already attempted to integrate pre-emptive conventional and possibly nuclear strikes into a NATO exercise scenario, but were met with strong resistance from other NATO nations. The exercise, Crisis Management Exercise or CMX 2002, was the first designed to test allied reaction to a potential NBC weapons strike against a member state (in this case Turkey) from "Amberland" (based on Iraq). The scenario began 100 days into the crisis with an attack looming. A report of the exercise notes:

    [S]erious disagreements arise between Allies over the appropriate response to the situation. The Military Committee is tasked with providing a list of recommendations for military options, but eventually is unable to do so. Capitals cannot agree on what the priorities should be and demand that political considerations be taken into account. The range of alternatives available are narrowed down to two main options: either carry out a pre-emptive strike with conventional weapons, or embark on an active information policy which delivers a threat of heavy and swift response if Amberland attacks Turkey. The United States and Turkey reportedly take a more hard line stance in support of pre-emptive strikes, while Germany, France and Spain prefer to defuse the crisis through more political means. Many NATO members see the practical benefits of a pre-emptive strike, but warn that such an action could trigger an escalation of the crisis. By the end of the seven-day exercise, the United States and Turkey declare themselves ready for pre-emptive air strikes. The exercise ends before any attack is carried out or Article V is officially declared. [27]

  38.  In fact, then NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson was forced to step in and shut down the exercise early in order to prevent open conflict emerging between allies. (This mirrored similar events in 1989, when Germany refused to allow an exercise including nuclear use in Germany to reach its final day). Other sources indicated that the US delegation at the exercise wanted nuclear options to be considered as part of this exercise, but did not press the point when even conventional pre-emptive strikes proved so controversial. They insisted on leaving the option open.

  39.  The difficulties in Alliance collective action exposed by CMX 2002 have been reinforced in European reaction to the publication of the National Security Strategy and the National Strategy to Combat WMD. If this kind of mission were to arise in real life, there is reportedly "some agreement among NATO insiders that that `the Alliance will not be the primary vehicle to carry out such an initiative'. One official points out that `even if there was evidence that a rogue state was imminently launching an attack with NBC weapons, the Allies would not be able to do anything and the US would have to go it alone. At best, NATO could give political support or another invocation of Article V'".[28]

  40.  US efforts to fully integrate American doctrine into NATO run counter to the traditional NATO approach that nuclear weapons have a political function. In this perspective, the tensions between US and European views on how best to resolve risks and threats from proliferators will be hard to reconcile. The US view that counterproliferation must be "integrated into the doctrine, training, and equipping of our force and those of our allies to ensure that we can prevail in any conflict with WMD-armed adversaries"[29] will be controversial as no European nation can openly admit to preparations to fight and win nuclear war, or a war involving other NBC weapons. European NATO nations in particular cannot openly support the idea that nuclear weapons should be used against biological or chemical weapons-armed adversaries who lack nuclear weapons.

  41.  The threat of conventional or nuclear strikes by NATO or by the US alone is likely to strengthen the pressures on countries in the NATO periphery to proliferate, unless they receive solid, binding security guarantees that they will not be subject to attack. Further, as NATO seeks to transform, nations outside Europe which face the potential threat of NATO nuclear use are less likely to accept NATO as an organizer of expeditionary missions meant to build global security in a disinterested fashion. These problems may already be dissipating unified approaches with regard to Iran and other areas of concern. In such a way, the current Alliance nuclear posture is actually increasing threats to the Alliance at its periphery.

  42.  The Committee should recommend that the use of nuclear weapons in counterproliferation missions should be explicitly rejected by NATO.

NATO, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

  43.  The retention by NATO of nuclear weapons is a stumbling block to pursuing threat reduction through arms control and non-proliferation—an approach which most NATO members have endorsed through the European Union's non-proliferation strategy. The development of new generations of nuclear weapons by the US, UK and France only add to the impression beyond Europe that NATO's stance on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons while planning to retain their own far into the 21st Century is at best hypocritical, and at worst self-defeating, actually decreasing security for Alliance members and encouraging the creation of new threats.

  44.  The gradual drift away from the open endorsement by NATO of key arms control Treaties, such as the CTBT, has further undermined the Alliance role in preventing and rolling back proliferation through diplomacy. Senior NATO sources have affirmed that, while ideas such as those put forward publicly by Germany and Norway were not discussed at the Riga Summit, they will have to be addressed in the future. It is also clear to Alliance insiders that if NATO wishes to be a serious security player in the future, it needs to return to past practice and incorporate non-proliferation and arms control into its missions, starting with the inclusion of such issues for addressing in formal NATO settings.

  45.  This is an urgent matter. We currently face a relatively benign threat environment, but there may be only a narrow window of opportunity to further improve this situation, and to build longer term, sustainable security through nuclear threat reduction. . The Ministry of Defence assessment, as laid out in the Trident white paper and in Written Answers, is that there is no current conventional or nuclear threat to NATO. [30]The current situation, in which NATO is failing to endorse further nuclear arms control, means that NATO nations are forgoing a golden opportunity to enhance their security in the long term through the definitive removal of WMD threats from Russia and other nations in the NATO periphery.

  46.  The actions of some NATO member states are putting the possibility of engaging Russia and others in nuclear arms control at risk. The United States, Poland and the Czech Republic are currently examining the possibility of stationing elements of the US Ballistic Missile Defense system, including missile interceptors, in Europe. The UK has also shown interest in such deployments. Russia has said it would reinstate targeting for any missile defence bases in Europe, and has also threatened to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. If they do so, and follow this with a redeployment of nuclear missiles like the SS-20s of the 1980s, aimed at NATO nations, then non-strategic nuclear arms control will be very much harder. Moreover, NATO will face a nuclear threat we all believed had been negotiated away once and for all. Such a stand-off is in no-one's interest, and would substantially decrease our security.

  47.  The Committee should recommend that HMG should lead NATO in an immediate reinvigoration of its policies on arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament as part of a comprehensive strategy for nuclear, biological and chemical threat reduction. The withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, and an end to the role of US and UK Trident forces in NATO defence policy should be part of this arms control process.

NATO Nuclear Sharing

  48.  NATO maintains a Cold War-era programme of nuclear sharing under which nominally non-nuclear states have military units which are trained in the use of nuclear weapons, and the United States maintains stocks of nuclear weapons on their territory for host nation use in time of war. Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey participate in this programme, though it is understood that Greece no longer permits US nuclear weapons to be based on their soil. Currently each of the nuclear sharing nations has air force units which are trained and certified in the carriage, deployment and use of nuclear weapons.

  49.  The pilots for these aircraft are provided with training specific to the use of US nuclear weapons. The air force units to which these pilots and aircraft belong have the capability to play a part in NATO nuclear planning, including assigning a target, selection of the yield of the warhead appropriate for the target, and planning a specific mission for the use of the bombs. In times of war, the US would hand direct control of these nuclear weapons over to the non-nuclear weapon states' pilots for use with aircraft from non-nuclear weapon states. Once the bomb is loaded aboard, the correct Permissive Action Link code would have been entered by the US soldiers guarding the weapons. Therefore, once the aircraft begins its mission, control over the respective weapon(s) has been transferred to pilots from the host nation, notwithstanding that five of these are non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT.

  50.  There are concerns that this arrangement undermines, and possibly contravenes, Articles I and II of the NPT. According to US lawyers, the transfer of control is legal because, on the outbreak of "general war", the NPT has failed in its purpose and can be regarded as no longer in controlling force. This arrangement was conceived in the early to mid-1960s to contain proliferation. It is arguable that several European nations including Germany were persuaded not to become nuclear states themselves because of the NATO nuclear umbrella. However, a nuclear sharing arrangement that may have had some logic in the pre-NPT and cold war world is now a source of weakening for the NPT, as it offers a rationale to other states to pursue a similar programme. NATO's nuclear sharing programme could now be used as an excuse by China, Pakistan or any other nuclear-armed nation to establish a similar arrangement. Imagine if China were to offer such an arrangement to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. Or if Pakistan were to undertake nuclear sharing with Saudi Arabia or Iran. Such developments would be perceived as a threat to security in North Asia or the Middle East, and even as a direct threat to NATO. Yet, while the NATO arrangements remain in place, NATO members would have few valid grounds for complaint.

  51.  The Committee should recommend the immediate termination of NATO nuclear sharing arrangements.


  52.  NATO is facing some serious and difficult debates over the next three years. Alliance solidarity has been slowly eroding since the disappearance of the Soviet Union, and the task for NATO leaders is to rebuild that solidarity and reshape the Alliance to face new missions dictated by the transformed post cold war, post 9/11 strategic and security environment. NATO must find a way to succeed in bringing stability to Afghanistan, and successfully extracting itself from a more stable Kosovo, while using these experiences to craft a new Strategic Concept based on the security needs of the 21st century on which all members can agree. This task is difficult, but not impossible.

  53.  The Committee should recommend that Her Majesty's Government, as part of its commitment to non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, should initiate negotiation of a new Strategic Concept for NATO, including the termination of all nuclear elements in joint strategy and doctrine, and emphasizing arms control and non-proliferation as the only long-term mechanisms for reducing and eliminating WMD threats.

19 March 2007

16   NATO Strategic Concept, 1999, paragraph 6. Back

17   President Bush, Speech on Future of NATO, Latvia University, Riga, Latvia, 28 November 2006. Back

18   Interview with Ambassador Victoria Nuland, BBC Hardtalk, 15 February 2007. Back

19   President Vike-Freiberga of Latvia, Press Conference during NATO Summit, 28 November 2006. Back

20   George P Shultz, William J Perry, Henry A Kissinger and Sam Nunn, A World Free of Nuclear Weapons: Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, The Wall Street Journal, Page A15, 4 January 2007. Back

21   Paragraph 40, The Alliance's Strategic Concept, Approved by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Washington DC, 23 and 24 April 1999. Back

22   Paragraph 53 h, The Alliance's Strategic Concept, Approved by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Washington DC, 23 and 24 April 1999. Back

23   The MC400 series of papers are adopted by the NATO Military Committee. They are classified implementation plans for the published Strategic Concept of the Alliance. Back

24   NATO: The Alliance Strategic Concept, Para 41, April 1999. Back

25   P Taylor, Analysis, NATO Accused of Widening Nuclear Role, Reuters News Service, 14 March 2000. Back

26   Canadian Statement to Cluster 1 Debate, NPT 2nd PrepCom for 2005 Review Conference, 1 May 2003. Back

27   Monaco, Annalisa and Riggle, Sharon, NATO Squares Off with Middle East Foe: Threat of WMD challenges Alliance, in NATO Notes, Vol 4, No 2, 1 March 2002. Back

28   Monaco, Annalisa, The US new strategic doctrine: A likely row with transatlantic partners? In NATO Notes, Vol 4, no 6, 25 July 2002 published by CESD. Back

29   National Security Strategy of the United States, 20 September 2002. Back

30   For the appropriate written answer to John Bercow MP, see Hansard, 12 December 2006: Column 932W. Back

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