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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 25, April 1998

NATO Expansion Concerns in Senate

On 30 April, the US Senate voted by a large majority - 80 votes to 19 - to approve the enlargement of the NATO Alliance. See Documents and Sources in this issue, and News Review next issue, for details, comment and reaction. The prevalent, up-beat, pro-expansion view was summed up in the Senate by Majority Leader Trent Lott (Republican - Mississippi), speaking on 20 April:

"I think it's the right thing to do. I think [expansion] is enlarging the ring of freedom in that part of the world. It is the natural extension of the victory of the Cold War that we had..."

Extracts from statements in the Senate by opponents of expansion are featured below.

Tom Harkin (Democrat - Iowa), 23 April

"We shouldn't sign the American taxpayer's name to a blank cheque... [The official US cost-estimate of $400 million] does not include a host of loans, grants and giveaway programs...[or payments] that enable the new nations to upgrade and modernize their aircraft, tanks and howitzers... The Administration cost estimates should have a big warning label: 'Weapons Not Included'....

Will the progress we've made in nuclear disarmament and conventional weapons disarmament with Russia be halted or even reversed? Will expanding NATO exacerbate tensions in eastern Europe? Will NATO expansion strengthen those in Russia who oppose democratic and market reforms?"

Daniel Moynihan (Democrat - New York), 20 April

"If we go ahead, we have to recognize that without having intended it, we may have raised the prospect of nuclear war to the most intense point it has ever reached since the beginning of the nuclear age..."

Robert Smith (Republican - New Hampshire), 23 April

"[NATO expansion] will alienate Russia and encourage them [sic] to look eastward... [It] will frustrate the efforts of Russian democrats to bring Russia into the West...[and will] put Russian ratification of START II in jeopardy...

The tensions raised by expanding NATO towards Russia's borders can only make more difficult our critical efforts to ensure that Russian nuclear warheads do not fall into the hands of terrorist or rogue regimes..."

John Warner (Republican - Virginia), 23 April

"[There is] no strategic concept...as to what a new NATO, in years to come, will do. ... What will it do? What's its mission? ... We are about...to fracture an Alliance which has...served the whole world with near perfection for more than 50 years..."

Editor's note: retired Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, prominent advocate and architect of US cooperation with Russia to advance disarmament and reduce the risk of proliferation, has also been voicing concerns about NATO's enlargement. Quoted on 23 April, Nunn warned: "The downside potential if things go wrong is considerable... [Enlargement] takes us back to where we were in the early '50s, defending territory with the threat of nuclear weapons, which I spent most of my career trying to move away from."

Reports: Moynihan warns of NATO expansion, Associated Press, 20 April; Senators - NATO expansion a tough fight, Associated Press, 23 April; Senate seen voting for NATO expansion, Reuters, 23 April; Senate opponents of NATO enlargement make their case, United States Information Service, 23 April.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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