02 May 2000
NATO Council Could Adopt Nuclear Strategy Today
Spokesman Confirms Role for Nukes to Counter Chemical and Biological Attacks
WASHINGTON, DC NATO is moving forward with a controversial plan
to expand its strategic doctrine to, for the first time, threaten the use of nuclear
weapons in retaliation for a chemical or biological attack, according to Zurich-based
newspaper Tagesanzeiger. In an April 25 interview, Col. Frank Salis, NATO Military
Committee spokesman, confirms BITS-BASICs contention, detailed in Questions of
Command and Control: NATO, Nuclear Sharing and the NPT, that the 19 NATO allies are bent
on widening the role for nuclear weapons in alliance strategy.
Col. Salis reportedly said the alliance needs equivalent means of deterrence as well
as defense against all forms of possible attacks. Since the alliance does not have
biological weapons or chemical weapons, it can only threaten by nuclear weapons. In
the Tagesanzeiger report, Mr. Salis also confirms that NATO ambassadors intend to give
political approval to NATOs news strategic doctrine (MC400/2) before May 9.
This contradicts written assurances made to BASIC by the British Foreign Office on April
17. At that time Minister for Europe Keith Vaz said, NATO has not widened the role
of nuclear weapons, either in the new Strategic Concept, or through any language in
MC400/2. And I can assure you we remain fully committed to the Negative Security
Assurances we give in the context of the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty], and through the
protocols of the Nuclear Weapons Free Zones, to non-nuclear weapons states not in material
breach of their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. We have no intention of seeing them
The apparent plan to move forward on expanding NATOs nuclear options under MC 400/2
also contradicts a strongly worded statement made yesterday by the five nuclear weapon
states at the ongoing New York conference on the nuclear NPT. Among other things, the
statement reaffirmed the nuclear states commitment to the ultimate elimination of
How can the world consider the U.S. commitment to disarmament seriously when the
United States and its NATO allies are finding new uses for nuclear weapons? The more roles
NATO finds for nuclear weapons, the more it provokes proliferation by other
countries, said Daniel Plesch, director of BASIC.
Widening the role NATO has for nuclear weapons will undermine the nuclear arms
policy review that NATO is currently undertaking, said Otfried Nassauer, director of
the Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security (BITS). At a minimum NATO
should delay political approval of MC400/2 until after the NATO arms control disarmament
and non-proliferation policy review has come to a conclusion, now slated for the end of
the year. The new strategy, under no circumstances, should be allowed to constrain the
arms control policy review.
The NATO arms control policy review was initiated following pressure from Canada and
Germany at last years NATO summit.