Press Release
6 March 1998

Expanding NATO's Nuclear No's

Without fanfare the Clinton Administration has further specified its plans for NATO's future nuclear posture. According to Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, NATO's new member states, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, will be eligible to participate in political oversight of NATO's nuclear posture and in consultations on the use of nuclear weapons. However, their peacetime involvement in NATO's nuclear sharing arrangements will be limited to these tasks.

Unilaterally interpreting NATO's policy that the Alliance "had no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO's nuclear posture or nuclear policy - and not foresee any future need to do so", Albright and Cohen stated, there are

  • no plans to conduct peacetime training of pilots from the new member states for nuclear missions;
  • no requirements for the new member states to buy nuclear capable western aircraft;
  • no plans to provide nuclear certification to any dual capable aircraft the new members might buy;
  • no plans to transfer equipment or infrastructure to support dual capable aircraft in a nuclear role;
  • and no plans to conclude bilateral agreements between the US and the new members, allowing for the exchange of classified nuclear weapons information and hardware necessary to operate them.

Secretary Albright also indicated that NATO's politically binding commitments do not preclude further reductions in the number of nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, the removal of all nuclear weapons from any or all NATO nations currently hosting US nuclear weapons or changes to NATO's nuclear sharing arrangements.

These new statements were contained in written exchanges between the two Secretaries and Tom Harkin, a member of the US Senate, obtained by BASIC and BITS.

"These unilateral statements may prove very helpful", says Otfried Nassauer, Director of the Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security. "The interpretations will help to build confidence in Russia, that NATO does not intend or plan to circumvent or re-interpret the political assurances, given to the Russian Federation."

Stephen Young of the British American Security Information Council adds: "These statements further convey the declining significance of nuclear weapons in European Security. They will help paving the way for further reductions in NATO's nuclear posture."

For further information, please call
Stephen Young at BASIC-USA +1 - 202 - 785 1266
Nicola Butler at BASIC-UK + 44 - 171 - 9250862 or
Otfried Nassauer at BITS +49 - (0)30 - 4410220