Nuclear Arms Control
NATO Allies have maintained a long-standing commitment to nuclear arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation as an integral part of their security policy, firmly embedded in the broader political context in which Allies seek to enhance stability and security by lowering arms levels and increasing military transparency and mutual confidence. In its 1983 “Montebello Decision” the Alliance announced, and subsequently carried out, the withdrawal of 1400 nuclear warheads from Europe. The 1987 US-Soviet Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty eliminated land-based intermediate range nuclear missiles on a global basis, thus bringing to fruition the arms control aspect of NATO’s 1979 “dual-track decision”.
The United States and the Russian Federation are deeply engaged on a process aimed at drastically reducing their strategic nuclear weapons. The Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START I), signed in July 1991 and in force since 1994, codified agreement to reduce the deployed strategic weapons of both sides from well over 10 000 to 6 000. Start II (signed in January 1993 and ratified by the Us in January 1996 and by Russia in April 2000) addressed reductions of each side’s strategic weapons to between 3000 and 3500. It included elimination of multiple independently-target able re-entry vehicles (MIRV) from Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), as well as procedures for intrusive verification of compliance.
With the emergence of a new strategic relationship between the United States and Russia in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, a new Treaty on Nuclear Arms was signed by the two parties on 24 May 2002. Replacing the START II Treaty, which will not be implemented, the new treaty commits both parties to reduce their strategic nuclear warheads so that by 31 December 2012, the aggregate number of such warheads does not exceed 1700-2200 for each party. Each party determines for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms.
NATO member countries are all parties to and fully support the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) to which there are 187 signatory countries. Allies have urged all countries which have not yet done so to accede to and fully implement the Treaty. At the NPT five-yearly Review Conference in New York in May 2000, the five nuclear powers recognised under the NPT-China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States-among other practical steps for implementing the treaty, committed themselves to “ an unequivocal undertaking… to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament, process is general and complete disarmament under effective international control”.
NATO strongly supports efforts to reduce nuclear weapons in a prudent and graduated manner in the framework or through other measures and agreements. The Alliance has consistently welcomed the ongoing process of further reducing the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by the United States and Russia, and Allies have expressed their full support for the Treaty on Nuclear Arms signed in May 2002.
All these commitments and developments are in line with the Alliance’s objective of ensuring security and stability at the lowest possible level of forces consistent with the requirements of defence.