Meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers
1. At a special meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers in Brussels on 12 December 1979.
2. Ministers recalled the May 1978 Summit where governments expressed the political resolve to meet the challenges to their security posed by the continuing momentum of the Warsaw Pact military build-up.
3. The Warsaw Pact has over the years developed a large and growing capability in nuclear systems that directly threaten Western Europe and have a strategic significance for the Alliance in Europe. This situation has been especially aggravated over the last few years by Soviet decisions to implement programmes modernising and expanding their long-range nuclear capability substantially. In particular, they have deployed the SS-20 missile, which offers significant improvements over previous systems in providing greater accuracy, more mobility, and greater range, as well as having multiple warheads, and the Backfire bomber, which has a much better performance than other Soviet aircraft deployed hitherto in a theatre role. During this period, while the Soviet Union has been reinforcing its superiority in Long-Range Theatre Nuclear Forces (LRTNF) both quantitatively and qualitatively, Western LRTNF capabilities have remained static. Indeed these forces are increasing in age and vulnerability and do not include land-based, long-range theatre nuclear missile systems.
4. At the same time, the Soviets have also undertaken a modernisation and expansion of their shorter-range TNF and greatly improved the overall quality of their conventional forces. These developments took place against the background of increasing Soviet inter-continental capabilities and achievement of parity in inter-continental capability with the United States.
5. These trends have prompted serious concern within the Alliance, because, if they were to continue, Soviet superiority in theatre nuclear systems could undermine the stability achieved in inter-continental systems and cast doubt on the credibility of the Alliance's deterrent strategy by highlighting the gap in the spectrum of NATO's available nuclear response to aggression.
6. Ministers noted that these recent developments require concrete actions on the part of the Alliance if NATO's strategy of flexible response is to remain credible. After intensive consideration, including the merits of alternative approaches, and after taking note of the positions of certain members, Ministers concluded that the overall interest of the Alliance would best be served by pursuing two parallel and complementary approaches of TNF modernisation and arms control.
7. Accordingly Ministers
have decided to modernise NATO's LRTNF by the deployment in Europe of
US ground-launched systems comprising 108 Pershing II launchers, which
would replace existing US Pershing I-A, and 464 Ground-Launched Cruise
Missiles (GLCM), all with single warheads.
8. Ministers attach
great importance to the role of arms control in contributing to a more
stable military relationship between East and West and in advancing
the process of détente. This is reflected in a broad set of initiatives
being examined within the Alliance to further the course of arms
9. Ministers consider
that, building on this accomplishment and taking account of the expansion
of Soviet LRTNF capabilities of concern to NATO, arms control efforts
to achieve a more stable overall nuclear balance at lower levels of
nuclear weapons on both sides should therefore now include certain US
and Soviet long-range theatre nuclear systems. This would reflect previous
Western suggestions to include such Soviet and US systems in arms control
negotiations and more recent expressions by Soviet President Brezhnev
of willingness to do so. Ministers fully support the
10. Given the special
importance of these negotiations for the overall security of the Alliance,
a special consultative body at a high level will be constituted within
the Alliance to support the US negotiating effort. This body will follow
the negotiations on a continuous basis and report to the Foreign and
Defence Ministers who will examine developments in these negotiations
as well as in
11. The Ministers
have decided to pursue these two parallel and complementary approaches
in order to avert an arms race in Europe caused by the Soviet TNF build-up,
yet preserve the viability of NATO's strategy of deterrence and defence
and thus maintain the security of its member States.
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Updated: September 2002