Project on European Nuclear Non-Proliferation - PENN

Press Release
11 May 1999


NATO Nuclear Policies Slammed at Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom

NATO nuclear weapons policy, and the recently agreed Alliance Strategic Concept have come under strong attack from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and individual delegations to the 3rd Preparatory Committee of the 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, currently meeting in New York. Today, NGOs will join this criticism as they make their formal presentations to the NPT PrepCom. This condemnation of NATO comes only two weeks after the NATO Summit approved a new Strategic Concept which leaves NATO nuclear policy unchanged and even states that "By deterring the use of NBC weapons, they contribute to Alliance efforts aimed at preventing the proliferation of these weapons."

The PrepCom opened in an atmosphere of strong protest against the war in Yugoslavia, and its future implications for NATO military intervention beyond NATO borders. China condemned "Some countries and blocs of countries [which] still cling to the Cold War mentality .... The tendency towards closer military alliance is growing. New forms of ‘gunboat policy’ are rampant." The
statement continued that "the strategy and policy pursued by US-led NATO, … not only undermines international peace and security but impairs the efforts towards nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation."

Criticism of NATO policies has been growing since Mexico first protested NATO strategy at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. In 1999 the NAM has for the second year in a row submitted a Working Paper which demands that "Nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT refrain from, among themselves, with non-nuclear-weapon states, and with States not party to the Treaty, nuclear sharing for military purposes under any kind of security arrangements." This challenges the arrangements under which non-nuclear weapon states in NATO receive US nuclear weapons and training in their use in support of NATO military doctrines.

Algeria, backing the NAM position, strongly criticized "... the very recent adoption of the [NATO] Strategic Concept which reaffirms the essential importance of nuclear weapons in security and the preservation of peace, contradicting by word and deed the hopes cherished by many countries." Mongolia warned that the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept could provoke other nuclear weapon states to adopt similar policies while others might question the utility of the NPT.

Later today, Sharon Riggle, Director of the Centre for European Security and Disarmament, will deliver a statement on behalf of all NGOs to the NPT PrepCom on NATO nuclear policy and nuclear weapons in Europe. She will say that "None of the fundamental principles of NATO’s nuclear weapons policy have changed in the new strategic Concept." Ms Riggle will then point
out that NATO has one last opportunity to adapt its nuclear policy to the new security environment before the 2000 Review Conference, or continue with policies that "... rely on nuclear weapons indefinitely. Either way the repercussions for the NPT will be great."

Further details from Martin Butcher in New York on 202-487-4386.

PENN is a international network of non-governmental organizations concerned with nuclear weapons issues.