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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 36, April 1999

NATO 50th Anniversary Summit

Summit of Heads of State and Government, Washington, 23-25 April 1999

Editor's note: see above for the 'Statement on Kosovo' issued at the Summit.

Summit Communiqué

'An Alliance for the 21st Century: Washington Summit Communiqué, Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Washington, 24 April 1999', NATO Press Release NAC-S(99)64, 24 April 1999

"1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, have gathered in Washington to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NATO and to set forth our vision of the Alliance of the 21st century. ...

2. Fifty years ago, the North Atlantic Alliance was founded in troubled and uncertain times. It has withstood the test of five decades and allowed the citizens of Allied countries to enjoy an unprecedented period of peace, freedom and prosperity. ... This new Alliance will be larger, more capable and more flexible, committed to collective defence and able to undertake new missions including contributing to effective conflict prevention and engaging actively in crisis management, including crisis response operations. The Alliance will work with other nations and organisations to advance security, prosperity and democracy throughout the Euro-Atlantic region. The presence today of three new Allies - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - demonstrates that we have overcome the division of Europe. ...

4. The NATO of the 21st century starts today - a NATO which retains the strengths of the past and has new missions, new members and new partnerships. To this end, we have:

  • approved an updated Strategic Concept;
  • reaffirmed our commitment to the enlargement process of the Alliance and approved a Membership Action Plan for countries wishing to join;
  • completed the work on key elements of the Berlin Decisions on building the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance and decided to further enhance its effectiveness;
  • launched the Defence Capabilities Initiative;
  • intensified our relations with Partners through an enhanced and more operational Partnership for Peace and strengthened our consultations and co-operation within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council;
  • enhanced the Mediterranean Dialogue; and
  • decided to increase Alliance efforts against weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
5. As part of the Alliance's adaptation to the new security challenges, we have updated our Strategic Concept to make it fully consistent with the Alliance's new security environment. The updated Concept reaffirms our commitment to collective defence and the transatlantic link; takes account of the challenges the Alliance now faces; presents an Alliance ready and with a full range of capabilities to enhance the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area; reaffirms our commitment to building the ESDI within the Alliance; highlights the enhanced role of partnership and dialogue; underlines the need to develop defence capabilities to their full potential to meet the spectrum of Alliance missions, including forces which are more deployable, sustainable, survivable and able to engage effectively; and provides guidance to the NATO Military Authorities to this end. ...

7. We warmly welcome the participation of the three new Allies - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - in their first Alliance Summit meeting. Their accession to the North Atlantic Treaty opens a new chapter in the history of the Atlantic Alliance.

We reaffirm today our commitment to the openness of the Alliance under Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty and in accordance with Paragraph 8 of the Madrid Summit Declaration. We pledge that NATO will continue to welcome new members in a position to further the principles of the Treaty and contribute to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. This is part of an evolutionary process that takes into account political and security developments in the whole of Europe. Our commitment to enlargement is part of a broader strategy of projecting stability and working together with our Partners to build a Europe whole and free. The ongoing enlargement process strengthens the Alliance and enhances the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region. The three new members will not be the last.

At the Summit in Madrid we recognised the progress made by a number of countries aspiring to join the Alliance in meeting the responsibilities and obligations for possible membership.

Today we recognise and welcome the continuing efforts and progress in both Romania and Slovenia. We also recognise and welcome continuing efforts and progress in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since the Madrid Summit, we note and welcome positive developments in Bulgaria. We also note and welcome recent positive developments in Slovakia. We are grateful for the co-operation of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia...with NATO in the present crisis and welcome its progress on reforms. We welcome Albania's co-operation with the Alliance in the present crisis and encourage its reform efforts. ...

We welcome the aspirations of the nine countries currently interested in joining the Alliance. Accordingly, we are ready to provide advice, assistance and practical support. To this end, we approve today a Membership Action Plan which includes the following elements:

  • the submission by aspiring members of individual annual national programmes on their preparations for possible future membership, covering political, economic, defence, resource, security and legal aspects;
  • a focused and candid feedback mechanism on aspirant countries' progress on their programmes that includes both political and technical advice, as well as annual 19+1 meetings at Council level to assess progress;
  • a clearinghouse to help co-ordinate assistance by NATO and by member States to aspirant countries in the defence/military field;
  • a defence planning approach for aspirants which includes elaboration and review of agreed planning targets.
We direct that NATO Foreign Ministers keep the enlargement process, including the implementation of the Membership Action Plan, under continual review and report to us. We will review the process at our next Summit meeting which will be held no later than 2002. ...

11. We have launched a Defence Capabilities Initiative to improve the defence capabilities of the Alliance to ensure the effectiveness of future multinational operations across the full spectrum of Alliance missions in the present and foreseeable security environment with a special focus on improving interoperability among Alliance forces (and where applicable also between Alliance and Partner forces). Defence capabilities will be increased through improvements in the deployability and mobility of Alliance forces, their sustainability and logistics, their survivability and effective engagement capability, and command and control and information systems. In this connection, we endorse the Council decision to begin implementing the Multinational Joint Logistics Centre concept by the end of 1999, and to develop the C3 system architecture by 2002 to form a basis for an integrated Alliance core capability allowing interoperability with national systems. We have established a temporary High-Level Steering Group to oversee the implementation of the Defence Capabilities Initiative and to meet the requirement of co-ordination and harmonisation among relevant planning disciplines, including for Allies concerned force planning, with the aim of achieving lasting effects on improvements in capabilities and interoperability. Improvements in interoperability and critical capabilities should also strengthen the European pillar in NATO. ...

26. We remain firmly committed to our partnership with Russia under the NATO-Russia Founding Act. NATO and Russia have a common objective in strengthening security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. Throughout the Kosovo crisis, NATO and Russia have shared the common goals of the international community: to halt the violence, to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, and to create the conditions for a political solution. These goals remain valid. Consultation and dialogue are even more important in times of crisis. NATO and its member countries are determined to build on the areas of common ground with Russia concerning the international response to the crisis in Kosovo and remain ready to resume consultations and co-operation in the framework of the Founding Act.

27. Close relations between NATO and Russia are of great importance to stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Since the conclusion of the Founding Act in May 1997, considerable and encouraging progress has been made in intensifying consultation and co-operation with Russia. The NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council has developed into an important venue to consult, to promote transparency and confidence-building, and to foster co-operation. Russia's participation in the implementation of the peace agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina was a significant step towards a new co-operative relationship. We have developed an extensive dialogue on such matters as disarmament and arms control, including the adaptation of the CFE Treaty; peacekeeping and nuclear weapons issues. Strategy, defence policy and doctrines, budgets and infrastructure development programmes, and non-proliferation, are further examples of this increasing co-operation.

28. We attach great importance to a strong, enduring and distinctive partnership between NATO and Ukraine. Ukraine has an important role to play in enhancing security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and in particular in Central and Eastern Europe. We are pleased with the progress reached since the signing of the NATO-Ukraine Charter in Madrid, and will continue to strengthen our distinctive partnership. ...

29. The Mediterranean Dialogue is an integral part of the Alliance's co-operative approach to security since security in the whole of Europe is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean. We are pleased with the development of our Mediterranean Dialogue.

30. The proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons and their means of delivery can pose a direct military threat to Allies' populations, territory, and forces and therefore continues to be a matter of serious concern for the Alliance. The principal non-proliferation goal of the Alliance and its members is to prevent proliferation from occurring, or, should it occur, to reverse it through diplomatic means. We reiterate our full support for the international non-proliferation regimes and their strengthening. We recognise progress made in this regard. In order to respond to the risks to Alliance security posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery means, we have launched an Initiative that builds upon work since the Brussels Summit to improve overall Alliance political and military efforts in this area.

31. The WMD Initiative will: ensure a more vigorous, structured debate at NATO leading to strengthened common understanding among Allies on WMD issues and how to respond to them; improve the quality and quantity of intelligence and information-sharing among Allies on proliferation issues; support the development of a public information strategy by Allies to increase awareness of proliferation issues and Allies' efforts to support non-proliferation efforts; enhance existing Allied programmes which increase military readiness to operate in a WMD environment and to counter WMD threats; strengthen the process of information exchange about Allies' national programmes of bilateral WMD destruction and assistance; enhance the possibilities for Allies to assist one another in the protection of their civil populations against WMD risks; and create a WMD Centre within the International Staff at NATO to support these efforts. The WMD initiative will integrate political and military aspects of Alliance work in responding to proliferation.

32. Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation will continue to play a major role in the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives. NATO has a long-standing commitment in this area. Allied forces, both conventional and nuclear, have been significantly reduced since the end of the Cold War as part of the changed security environment. All Allies are States Parties to the central treaties related to disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, and are committed to the full implementation of these treaties. NATO is a defensive Alliance seeking to enhance security and stability at the minimum level of forces consistent with the requirements for the full range of Alliance missions. As part of its broad approach to security, NATO actively supports arms control and disarmament, both conventional and nuclear, and pursues its approach against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means. In the light of overall strategic developments and the reduced salience of nuclear weapons, the Alliance will consider options for confidence and security building measures, verification, non-proliferation and arms control and disarmament. The Council in Permanent Session will propose a process to Ministers in December for considering such options. The responsible NATO bodies would accomplish this. We support deepening consultations with Russia in these and other areas in the Permanent Joint Council as well as with Ukraine in the NATO-Ukraine Commission and with other Partners in the EAPC [Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council].

33. The CFE Treaty is a cornerstone of European security. We reaffirm our commitment to the successful adaptation of the Treaty reflecting the new security environment and paving the way to greater conventional security and stability in Europe. In the course of the negotiations so far, Members of the Alliance have already declared their intention to undertake reductions in their equipment entitlements or holdings, and we strongly encourage others to follow suit with similar substantial reductions. In this context, we are pleased that agreement has been reached by CFE States Parties in Vienna in March 1999 on the key outstanding issues, permitting drafting work to proceed without delay. Allies will do their utmost to complete an adapted Treaty for signature by the time of the OSCE Istanbul Summit in November 1999. Until the adaptation process is completed, the continued full implementation of the existing Treaty and its associated documents will remain crucial.

34. We call on Russia to ratify the START II Treaty without delay. This would pave the way for considerable reductions of nuclear arsenals and would allow negotiations on a START III Treaty aiming at further far-reaching reductions. We remain committed to an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and call upon all countries to accede to and implement the Treaty in due course. We support the early commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

35. We are determined to achieve progress on a legally binding protocol including effective verification measures to enhance compliance and promote transparency that strengthens the implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We re-emphasise the importance of universal adherence to, and effective implementation of, the Chemical Weapons Convention. We support de-mining efforts in Bosnia, the development of practical initiatives under the auspices of the EAPC, and - for signatories - activities to meet obligations under the Ottawa Convention.

36. We call on Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to ratify the Open Skies Treaty without delay. ...

38. As stated in the Washington Treaty, we recognise the primary responsibility of the United Nations Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security. ...

39. Co-operation and co-ordination between the Alliance and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has expanded considerably in the light of the support we have provided to the OSCE-led Kosovo Verification Missions. We hope to make use of these important bridges between our two organisations to work together in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation, in the spirit of the OSCE's Common Concept for the Development of Co-operation between Mutually Reinforcing Institutions. We continue to support the efforts of the OSCE to develop a Document-Charter on European Security, worthy of adoption at the OSCE Istanbul Summit in November 1999. ...

43. NATO Heads of State and Government believe that a key to the future success of the North Atlantic Alliance is the efficient production and availability of advanced weapons and technology in support of security for all its members. We also believe that viable defence industries on both sides of the Atlantic are critical to the efficient functioning of NATO military forces. To that end, we welcome continued transatlantic defence industrial co-operation to help ensure interoperability, economies of scale, competition and innovation. We will seek to ensure that NATO's armament activities meet the Alliance's evolving military needs. ..."

The New Strategic Concept

'The Alliance's Strategic Concept: Approved by the Heads of State and Government Participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., on 23 and 24 April 1999,' NATO Press Release NAC-S(99)65, 23 April 1999


1. At their Summit meeting in Washington in April 1999, NATO Heads of State and Government approved the Alliance's new Strategic Concept.

2. NATO has successfully ensured the freedom of its members and prevented war in Europe during the 40 years of the Cold War. By combining defence with dialogue, it played an indispensable role in bringing East-West confrontation to a peaceful end. The dramatic changes in the Euro-Atlantic strategic landscape brought by the end of the Cold War were reflected in the Alliance's 1991 Strategic Concept. There have, however, been further profound political and security developments since then.

3. The dangers of the Cold War have given way to more promising, but also challenging prospects, to new opportunities and risks. A new Europe of greater integration is emerging, and a Euro-Atlantic security structure is evolving in which NATO plays a central part. The Alliance has been at the heart of efforts to establish new patterns of cooperation and mutual understanding across the Euro-Atlantic region and has committed itself to essential new activities in the interest of a wider stability. It has shown the depth of that commitment in its efforts to put an end to the immense human suffering created by conflict in the Balkans. The years since the end of the Cold War have also witnessed important developments in arms control, a process to which the Alliance is fully committed. The Alliance's role in these positive developments has been underpinned by the comprehensive adaptation of its approach to security and of its procedures and structures. The last ten years have also seen, however, the appearance of complex new risks to Euro-Atlantic peace and stability, including oppression, ethnic conflict, economic distress, the collapse of political order, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

4. The Alliance has an indispensable role to play in consolidating and preserving the positive changes of the recent past, and in meeting current and future security challenges. It has, therefore, a demanding agenda. It must safeguard common security interests in an environment of further, often unpredictable change. It must maintain collective defence and reinforce the transatlantic link and ensure a balance that allows the European Allies to assume greater responsibility. It must deepen its relations with its partners and prepare for the accession of new members. It must, above all, maintain the political will and the military means required by the entire range of its missions.

5. This new Strategic Concept will guide the Alliance as it pursues this agenda. It expresses NATO's enduring purpose and nature and its fundamental security tasks, identifies the central features of the new security environment, specifies the elements of the Alliance's broad approach to security, and provides guidelines for the further adaptation of its military forces.

Part I: The Purpose and Tasks of the Alliance

6. NATO's essential and enduring purpose, set out in the Washington Treaty, is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means. Based on common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the Alliance has striven since its inception to secure a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe. It will continue to do so. The achievement of this aim can be put at risk by crisis and conflict affecting the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. The Alliance therefore not only ensures the defence of its members but contributes to peace and stability in this region.

7. The Alliance embodies the transatlantic link by which the security of North America is permanently tied to the security of Europe. It is the practical expression of effective collective effort among its members in support of their common interests.

8. The fundamental guiding principle by which the Alliance works is that of common commitment and mutual co-operation among sovereign States in support of the indivisibility of security for all of its members. Solidarity and cohesion within the Alliance, through daily cooperation in both the political and military spheres, ensure that no single Ally is forced to rely upon its own national efforts alone in dealing with basic security challenges. Without depriving member States of their right and duty to assume their sovereign responsibilities in the field of defence, the Alliance enables them through collective effort to realise their essential national security objectives.

9. The resulting sense of equal security among the members of the Alliance, regardless of differences in their circumstances or in their national military capabilities, contributes to stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. The Alliance does not seek these benefits for its members alone, but is committed to the creation of conditions conducive to increased partnership, cooperation, and dialogue with others who share its broad political objectives.

10. To achieve its essential purpose, as an Alliance of nations committed to the Washington Treaty and the United Nations Charter, the Alliance performs the following fundamental security tasks:

  • Security:
To provide one of the indispensable foundations for a stable Euro-Atlantic security environment, based on the growth of democratic institutions and commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, in which no country would be able to intimidate or coerce any other through the threat or use of force.
  • Consultation:
To serve, as provided for in Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, as an essential transatlantic forum for Allied consultations on any issues that affect their vital interests, including possible developments posing risks for members' security, and for appropriate co-ordination of their efforts in fields of common concern.
  • Deterrence and Defence:
To deter and defend against any threat of aggression against any NATO member State as provided for in Articles 5 and 6 of the Washington Treaty.

And in order to enhance the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area:

  • Crisis Management:
To stand ready, case-by-case and by consensus, in conformity with Article 7 of the Washington Treaty, to contribute to effective conflict prevention and to engage actively in crisis management, including crisis response operations.
  • Partnership:
To promote wide-ranging partnership, cooperation, and dialogue with other countries in the Euro-Atlantic area, with the aim of increasing transparency, mutual confidence and the capacity for joint action with the Alliance.

11. In fulfilling its purpose and fundamental security tasks, the Alliance will continue to respect the legitimate security interests of others, and seek the peaceful resolution of disputes as set out in the Charter of the United Nations. The Alliance will promote peaceful and friendly international relations and support democratic institutions. The Alliance does not consider itself to be any country's adversary.

Part II: Strategic Perspectives

The Evolving Strategic Environment

12. The Alliance operates in an environment of continuing change. Developments in recent years have been generally positive, but uncertainties and risks remain which can develop into acute crises. Within this evolving context, NATO has played an essential part in strengthening Euro-Atlantic security since the end of the Cold War. ...

13. ... NATO has successfully adapted to enhance its ability to contribute to Euro-Atlantic peace and stability. Internal reform has included a new command structure, including the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept, the creation of arrangements to permit the rapid deployment of forces for the full range of the Alliance's missions, and the building of the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance.

14. The United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU), and the Western European Union (WEU) have made distinctive contributions to Euro-Atlantic security and stability. Mutually reinforcing organisations have become a central feature of the security environment.

15. The United Nations Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and, as such, plays a crucial role in contributing to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.

16. The OSCE, as a regional arrangement, is the most inclusive security organisation in Europe, which also includes Canada and the United States, and plays an essential role in promoting peace and stability, enhancing cooperative security, and advancing democracy and human rights in Europe. The OSCE is particularly active in the fields of preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation. NATO and the OSCE have developed close practical cooperation, especially with regard to the international effort to bring peace to the former Yugoslavia.

17. The European Union has taken important decisions and given a further impetus to its efforts to strengthen its security and defence dimension. ... The development of a common foreign and security policy (CFSP) includes the progressive framing of a common defence policy. Such a policy, as called for in the Amsterdam Treaty, would be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within the framework of the Washington Treaty. ...

18. As stated in the 1994 Summit declaration and reaffirmed in Berlin in 1996, the Alliance fully supports the development of the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance by making available its assets and capabilities for WEU-led operations. To this end, the Alliance and the WEU have developed a close relationship and put into place key elements of the ESDI as agreed in Berlin. In order to enhance peace and stability in Europe and more widely, the European Allies are strengthening their capacity for action, including by increasing their military capabilities. ...

19. The stability, transparency, predictability, lower levels of armaments, and verification which can be provided by arms control and non-proliferation agreements support NATO's political and military efforts to achieve its strategic objectives. The Allies have played a major part in the significant achievements in this field. These include the enhanced stability produced by the CFE Treaty, the deep reductions in nuclear weapons provided for in the START treaties; the signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the indefinite and unconditional extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the accession to it of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine as non-nuclear-weapons States, and the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Ottawa Convention to ban anti-personnel landmines and similar agreements make an important contribution to alleviating human suffering. There are welcome prospects for further advances in arms control in conventional weapons and with respect to nuclear, chemical, and biological (NBC) weapons.

Security Challenges and Risks

20. Notwithstanding positive developments in the strategic environment and the fact that large-scale conventional aggression against the Alliance is highly unlikely, the possibility of such a threat emerging over the longer term exists. The security of the Alliance remains subject to a wide variety of military and non-military risks which are multi-directional and often difficult to predict. These risks include uncertainty and instability in and around the Euro-Atlantic area and the possibility of regional crises at the periphery of the Alliance, which could evolve rapidly. ...

21. The existence of powerful nuclear forces outside the Alliance also constitutes a significant factor which the Alliance has to take into account if security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area are to be maintained.

22. The proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery remains a matter of serious concern. In spite of welcome progress in strengthening international non-proliferation regimes, major challenges with respect to proliferation remain. The Alliance recognises that proliferation can occur despite efforts to prevent it and can pose a direct military threat to the Allies' populations, territory, and forces. Some States, including on NATO's periphery and in other regions, sell or acquire or try to acquire NBC weapons and delivery means. Commodities and technology that could be used to build these weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means are becoming more common, while detection and prevention of illicit trade in these materials and know-how continues to be difficult. Non-State actors have shown the potential to create and use some of these weapons.

23. The global spread of technology that can be of use in the production of weapons may result in the greater availability of sophisticated military capabilities, permitting adversaries to acquire highly capable offensive and defensive air, land, and sea-borne systems, cruise missiles, and other advanced weaponry. In addition, State and non-State adversaries may try to exploit the Alliance's growing reliance on information systems through information operations designed to disrupt such systems. They may attempt to use strategies of this kind to counter NATO's superiority in traditional weaponry.

24. Any armed attack on the territory of the Allies, from whatever direction, would be covered by Articles 5 and 6 of the Washington Treaty. However, Alliance security must also take account of the global context. Alliance security interests can be affected by other risks of a wider nature, including acts of terrorism, sabotage and organised crime, and by the disruption of the flow of vital resources. The uncontrolled movement of large numbers of people, particularly as a consequence of armed conflicts, can also pose problems for security and stability affecting the Alliance. Arrangements exist within the Alliance for consultation among the Allies under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty and, where appropriate, co-ordination of their efforts including their responses to risks of this kind.

Part III: The Approach to Security in the 21st Century

25. The Alliance is committed to a broad approach to security, which recognises the importance of political, economic, social and environmental factors in addition to the indispensable defence dimension. ... Our collective aim is to build a European security architecture in which the Alliance's contribution to the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area and the contribution of these other international organisations are complementary and mutually reinforcing, both in deepening relations among Euro-Atlantic countries and in managing crises. ...

26. The Alliance seeks to preserve peace and to reinforce Euro-Atlantic security and stability by: the preservation of the transatlantic link; the maintenance of effective military capabilities sufficient for deterrence and defence and to fulfil the full range of its missions; the development of the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance; an overall capability to manage crises successfully; its continued openness to new members; and the continued pursuit of partnership, cooperation, and dialogue with other nations as part of its co-operative approach to Euro-Atlantic security, including in the field of arms control and disarmament.

The Transatlantic Link

27. NATO is committed to a strong and dynamic partnership between Europe and North America in support of the values and interests they share. The security of Europe and that of North America are indivisible. ...

The Maintenance Of Alliance Military Capabilities

28. The maintenance of an adequate military capability and clear preparedness to act collectively in the common defence remain central to the Alliance's security objectives. Such a capability, together with political solidarity, remains at the core of the Alliance's ability to prevent any attempt at coercion or intimidation, and to guarantee that military aggression directed against the Alliance can never be perceived as an option with any prospect of success.

29. Military capabilities effective under the full range of foreseeable circumstances are also the basis of the Alliance's ability to contribute to conflict prevention and crisis management through non-Article 5 crisis response operations. ...

The European Security And Defence Identity

30. ... The European Allies have taken decisions to enable them to assume greater responsibilities in the security and defence field in order to enhance the peace and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area and thus the security of all Allies. ... [T]he European Security and Defence Identity will continue to be developed within NATO. This process will require close cooperation between NATO, the WEU and, if and when appropriate, the European Union. ...

Conflict Prevention And Crisis Management

31. ... NATO will seek, in cooperation with other organisations, to prevent conflict, or, should a crisis arise, to contribute to its effective management, consistent with international law, including through the possibility of conducting non-Article 5 crisis response operations. ... NATO recalls its offer, made in Brussels in 1994, to support on a case-by-case basis in accordance with its own procedures, peacekeeping and other operations under the authority of the UN Security Council or the responsibility of the OSCE, including by making available Alliance resources and expertise. In this context NATO recalls its subsequent decisions with respect to crisis response operations in the Balkans. ...

32. ... A coherent approach to crisis management, as in any use of force by the Alliance, will require the Alliance's political authorities to choose and co-ordinate appropriate responses from a range of both political and military measures and to exercise close political control at all stages.

Partnership, Cooperation, And Dialogue

33. Through its active pursuit of partnership, cooperation, and dialogue, the Alliance is a positive force in promoting security and stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. ...

34. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council...will remain the overarching framework for all aspects of NATO's cooperation with its Partners. ... EAPC consultations build increased transparency and confidence among its members on security issues, contribute to conflict prevention and crisis management, and develop practical cooperation activities, including in civil emergency planning, and scientific and environmental affairs.

35. The Partnership for Peace is the principal mechanism for forging practical security links between the Alliance and its Partners and for enhancing interoperability between Partners and NATO. Through detailed programmes that reflect individual Partners' capacities and interests, Allies and Partners work towards transparency in national defence planning and budgeting; democratic control of defence forces; preparedness for civil disasters and other emergencies; and the development of the ability to work together, including in NATO-led PfP operations. ...

36. Russia plays a unique role in Euro-Atlantic security. Within the framework of the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, NATO and Russia have committed themselves to developing their relations on the basis of common interest, reciprocity and transparency to achieve a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area based on the principles of democracy and co-operative security. ...

37. Ukraine occupies a special place in the Euro-Atlantic security environment and is an important and valuable partner in promoting stability and common democratic values. NATO is committed to further strengthening its distinctive partnership with Ukraine on the basis of the NATO-Ukraine Charter, including political consultations on issues of common concern and a broad range of practical cooperation activities. ...

38. The Mediterranean is an area of special interest to the Alliance. Security in Europe is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean. NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue process is an integral part of NATO's co-operative approach to security. ...


39. The Alliance remains open to new members under Article 10 of the Washington Treaty. It expects to extend further invitations in coming years to nations willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, and as NATO determines that the inclusion of these nations would serve the overall political and strategic interests of the Alliance, strengthen its effectiveness and cohesion, and enhance overall European security and stability. To this end, NATO has established a programme of activities to assist aspiring countries in their preparations for possible future membership in the context of its wider relationship with them. No European democratic country whose admission would fulfil the objectives of the Treaty will be excluded from consideration.

Arms Control, Disarmament, And Non-Proliferation

40. The Alliance's policy of support for arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation will continue to play a major role in the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives. The Allies seek to enhance security and stability at the lowest possible level of forces consistent with the Alliance's ability to provide for collective defence and to fulfil the full range of its missions. The Alliance will continue to ensure that - as an important part of its broad approach to security - defence and arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation objectives remain in harmony. The Alliance will continue to actively contribute to the development of arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation agreements as well as to confidence and security building measures. The Allies take seriously their distinctive role in promoting a broader, more comprehensive and more verifiable international arms control and disarmament process. The Alliance will enhance its political efforts to reduce dangers arising from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. The principal non-proliferation goal of the Alliance and its members is to prevent proliferation from occurring or, should it occur, to reverse it through diplomatic means. The Alliance attaches great importance to the continuing validity and the full implementation by all parties of the CFE Treaty as an essential element in ensuring the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area.

Part IV: Guidelines for the Alliance's Forces

Principles Of Alliance Strategy

41. The Alliance will maintain the necessary military capabilities to accomplish the full range of NATO's missions. The principles of Allied solidarity and strategic unity remain paramount for all Alliance missions. Alliance forces must safeguard NATO's military effectiveness and freedom of action. The security of all Allies is indivisible: an attack on one is an attack on all. With respect to collective defence under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the combined military forces of the Alliance must be capable of deterring any potential aggression against it, of stopping an aggressor's advance as far forward as possible should an attack nevertheless occur, and of ensuring the political independence and territorial integrity of its member States. They must also be prepared to contribute to conflict prevention and to conduct non-Article 5 crisis response operations. The Alliance's forces have essential roles in fostering cooperation and understanding with NATO's Partners and other States, particularly in helping Partners to prepare for potential participation in NATO-led PfP operations. Thus they contribute to the preservation of peace, to the safeguarding of common security interests of Alliance members, and to the maintenance of the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area. By deterring the use of NBC weapons, they contribute to Alliance efforts aimed at preventing the proliferation of these weapons and their delivery means.

42. The achievement of the Alliance's aims depends critically on the equitable sharing of the roles, risks and responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of common defence. The presence of United States conventional and nuclear forces in Europe remains vital to the security of Europe, which is inseparably linked to that of North America. ...

44. Multinational funding, including through the Military Budget and the NATO Security Investment Programme, will continue to play an important role in acquiring and maintaining necessary assets and capabilities. ...

46. To protect peace and to prevent war or any kind of coercion, the Alliance will maintain for the foreseeable future an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces based in Europe and kept up to date where necessary, although at a minimum sufficient level. Taking into account the diversity of risks with which the Alliance could be faced, it must maintain the forces necessary to ensure credible deterrence and to provide a wide range of conventional response options. But the Alliance's conventional forces alone cannot ensure credible deterrence. Nuclear weapons make a unique contribution in rendering the risks of aggression against the Alliance incalculable and unacceptable. Thus, they remain essential to preserve peace.


50. Alliance military forces...contribute to promoting stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area by their participation in military-to-military contacts and in other cooperation activities and exercises under the Partnership for Peace as well as those organised to deepen NATO's relationships with Russia, Ukraine and the Mediterranean Dialogue countries. They contribute to stability and understanding by participating in confidence-building activities, including those which enhance transparency and improve communication; as well as in verification of arms control agreements and in humanitarian de-mining. Key areas of consultation and cooperation could include inter alia: training and exercises, interoperability, civil-military relations, concept and doctrine development, defence planning, crisis management, proliferation issues, armaments cooperation as well as participation in operational planning and operations.

Guidelines for the Alliance's Force Posture


52. The size, readiness, availability and deployment of the Alliance's military forces will reflect its commitment to collective defence and to conduct crisis response operations, sometimes at short notice, distant from their home stations, including beyond the Allies' territory. The characteristics of the Alliance's forces will also reflect the provisions of relevant arms control agreements. Alliance forces must be adequate in strength and capabilities to deter and counter aggression against any Ally. They must be interoperable and have appropriate doctrines and technologies. They must be held at the required readiness and deployability, and be capable of military success in a wide range of complex joint and combined operations, which may also include Partners and other non-NATO nations.

53. This means in particular:

  1. that the overall size of the Allies' forces will be kept at the lowest levels consistent with the requirements of collective defence and other Alliance missions; they will be held at appropriate and graduated readiness;
  2. that the peacetime geographical distribution of forces will ensure a sufficient military presence throughout the territory of the Alliance, including the stationing and deployment of forces outside home territory and waters and forward deployment of forces when and where necessary. Regional and, in particular, geostrategic considerations within the Alliance will have to be taken into account, as instabilities on NATO's periphery could lead to crises or conflicts requiring an Alliance military response, potentially with short warning times;
  3. that NATO's command structure will be able to undertake command and control of the full range of the Alliance's military missions including through the use of deployable combined and joint HQs, in particular CJTF headquarters, to command and control multinational and multiservice forces. It will also be able to support operations under the political control and strategic direction either of the WEU or as otherwise agreed, thereby contributing to the development of the ESDI within the Alliance, and to conduct NATO-led non-Article 5 crisis response operations in which Partners and other countries may participate;
  4. that overall, the Alliance will, in both the near and long term and for the full range of its missions, require essential operational capabilities such as an effective engagement capability; deployability and mobility; survivability of forces and infrastructure; and sustainability, incorporating logistics and force rotation. To develop these capabilities to their full potential for multinational operations, interoperability, including human factors, the use of appropriate advanced technology, the maintenance of information superiority in military operations, and highly qualified personnel with a broad spectrum of skills will be important. Sufficient capabilities in the areas of command, control and communications as well as intelligence and surveillance will serve as necessary force multipliers;
  5. that at any time a limited but militarily significant proportion of ground, air and sea forces will be able to react as rapidly as necessary to a wide range of eventualities, including a short-notice attack on any Ally. ...;
  6. that the Alliance must be able to build up larger forces, both in response to any fundamental changes in the security environment and for limited requirements, by reinforcement, by mobilising reserves, or by reconstituting forces when necessary. This ability must be in proportion to potential threats to Alliance security, including potential long-term developments. ...;
  7. that appropriate force structures and procedures, including those that would provide an ability to build up, deploy and draw down forces quickly and selectively, are necessary to permit measured, flexible and timely responses in order to reduce and defuse tensions. These arrangements must be exercised regularly in peacetime;
  8. that the Alliance's defence posture must have the capability to address appropriately and effectively the risks associated with the proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery, which also pose a potential threat to the Allies' populations, territory, and forces. A balanced mix of forces, response capabilities and strengthened defences is needed;
  9. that the Alliance's forces and infrastructure must be protected against terrorist attacks.
Characteristics of Conventional Forces


56. The Alliance's defence posture against the risks and potential threats of the proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery must continue to be improved, including through work on missile defences. As NATO forces may be called upon to operate beyond NATO's borders, capabilities for dealing with proliferation risks must be flexible, mobile, rapidly deployable and sustainable. Doctrines, planning, and training and exercise policies must also prepare the Alliance to deter and defend against the use of NBC weapons. The aim in doing so will be to further reduce operational vulnerabilities of NATO military forces while maintaining their flexibility and effectiveness despite the presence, threat or use of NBC weapons.

57. Alliance strategy does not include a chemical or biological warfare capability. The Allies support universal adherence to the relevant disarmament regimes. But, even if further progress with respect to banning chemical and biological weapons can be achieved, defensive precautions will remain essential. ...

60. The interaction between Alliance forces and the civil environment (both governmental and non-governmental) in which they operate is crucial to the success of operations. Civil-military cooperation is interdependent: military means are increasingly requested to assist civil authorities; at the same time civil support to military operations is important for logistics, communications, medical support, and public affairs. Cooperation between the Alliance's military and civil bodies will accordingly remain essential. ...

Characteristics of Nuclear Forces

62. The fundamental purpose of the nuclear forces of the Allies is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war. They will continue to fulfil an essential role by ensuring uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the nature of the Allies' response to military aggression. They demonstrate that aggression of any kind is not a rational option. The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States; the independent nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which have a deterrent role of their own, contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Allies.

63. A credible Alliance nuclear posture and the demonstration of Alliance solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements. Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe. These forces need to have the necessary characteristics and appropriate flexibility and survivability, to be perceived as a credible and effective element of the Allies' strategy in preventing war. They will be maintained at the minimum level sufficient to preserve peace and stability.

64. The Allies concerned consider that, with the radical changes in the security situation, including reduced conventional force levels in Europe and increased reaction times, NATO's ability to defuse a crisis through diplomatic and other means or, should it be necessary, to mount a successful conventional defence has significantly improved. The circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated by them are therefore extremely remote. Since 1991, therefore, the Allies have taken a series of steps which reflect the post-Cold War security environment. These include a dramatic reduction of the types and numbers of NATO's sub-strategic forces including the elimination of all nuclear artillery and ground-launched short-range nuclear missiles; a significant relaxation of the readiness criteria for nuclear-roled forces; and the termination of standing peacetime nuclear contingency plans. NATO's nuclear forces no longer target any country. Nonetheless, NATO will maintain, at the minimum level consistent with the prevailing security environment, adequate sub-strategic forces based in Europe which will provide an essential link with strategic nuclear forces, reinforcing the transatlantic link. These will consist of dual capable aircraft and a small number of United Kingdom Trident warheads. Sub-strategic nuclear weapons will, however, not be deployed in normal circumstances on surface vessels and attack submarines.

Part V: Conclusion

65. As the North Atlantic Alliance enters its sixth decade, it must be ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of a new century. The Strategic Concept reaffirms the enduring purpose of the Alliance and sets out its fundamental security tasks. It enables a transformed NATO to contribute to the evolving security environment, supporting security and stability with the strength of its shared commitment to democracy and the peaceful resolution of disputes. The Strategic Concept will govern the Alliance's security and defence policy, its operational concepts, its conventional and nuclear force posture and its collective defence arrangements, and will be kept under review in the light of the evolving security environment. In an uncertain world the need for effective defence remains, but in reaffirming this commitment the Alliance will also continue making full use of every opportunity to help build an undivided continent by promoting and fostering the vision of a Europe whole and free."

Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative

'NATO Summit: Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative,' NATO Fact Sheet, 24 April 1999

"NATO's 19 leaders today launched a five-part initiative that will ensure NATO is poised to address the risk of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the years ahead. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery pose a serious and growing threat to NATO populations, territory, and military forces. Joint action within the Alliance is necessary to address this threat and to reinforce the work of existing nonproliferation regimes.

The elements of NATO's WMD initiative are as following:

  • Information-sharing: Allies have committed to increase their sharing of WMD information and intelligence in order to develop a more comprehensive, shared assessment of the current and evolving threat.
  • Defense Planning: NATO military authorities will intensify and broaden the development of Allied capabilities to function safely in environments that may include a WMD threat.
  • Non-proliferation: Allies will intensify consultations on national non-proliferation assistance to other nations, such as the US Cooperative Thrust Reduction program. This Clearinghouse function will assist Allies in identifying areas of greatest need and will supplement rather than duplicate the work of existing nonproliferation regimes.
  • Civilian protection: NATO will accelerate coordination of possible responses in the event of WMD use against allied populations. This will include maintenance of a database on the immediate availability of medical stockpiles and expert personnel. Allies also will consider ways their national military forces might be made available to assist in the event of a WMD emergency.
  • WMD Center: To ensure effective coordination of NATO efforts on WMD, Allies have agreed to establish a WMD Center at NATO Headquarters. This Center will be responsible for integrating and overseeing all aspects of NATO's efforts on WMD."
Source: Text - NATO on weapons of mass destruction April 14, 1999, United States Information Service, 24 April

Defence Capabilities Initiative

'Defence Capabilities Initiative,' NATO Press Release NAC-S(99)69, 25 April 1999

"1. At Washington, NATO Heads of State and Government launched a Defence Capabilities Initiative. The objective of this initiative is to improve defence capabilities to ensure the effectiveness of future multinational operations across the full spectrum of Alliance missions in the present and foreseeable security environment with a special focus on improving interoperability among Alliance forces, and where applicable also between Alliance and Partner forces.

The Challenge: Adapting Capabilities for a New Security Environment

2. In accordance with the Alliance's new Strategic Concept, NATO must continue to maintain capabilities to deal with large-scale aggression against one or more of the members, although the probability of this occurring in the foreseeable future is low. Warning times for the possible emergence of such a threat are likely to remain long. Potential threats to Alliance security are more likely to result from regional conflicts, ethnic strife or other crises beyond Alliance territory, as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

3. Future Alliance military operations, including non-Article 5 crisis response operations, are likely to be smaller in scale than those which were the basis for Alliance planning during the Cold War. They may also be longer in duration, extend multinational cooperation to lower levels and take place concurrently with other Alliance operations. In many cases non-Article 5 operations will include force contributions from Partners and possibly other non-Allied nations. Operations outside Alliance territory may need to be undertaken with no, or only limited, access to existing NATO infrastructure. It may not be possible to invoke existing national emergency legislation to provide civilian transport assets for deployments or to mobilise reserves. These developments will make new demands on the capabilities required of Alliance forces, in particular in the field of interoperability. It is important that all nations are able to make a fair contribution to the full spectrum of Alliance missions regardless of differences in national defence structures.

4. Significant progress has been made in recent years in adapting Alliance forces to the requirements of this new security environment. However, many Allies have only relatively limited capabilities for the rapid deployment of significant forces outside national territory, or for extended sustainment of operations and protection of forces far from home bases. Command and control and information systems need to be better matched to the requirements of future Alliance military operations which will entail the exchange of a much greater volume of information and extending to lower levels than in the past. Maintaining the effectiveness of multinational operations will require particular attention to the challenges of interoperability. In this context, increased attention must be paid to human factors (such as common approaches to doctrine, training and operational procedures) and standardisation, as well as to the challenges posed by the accelerating pace of technological change and the different speeds at which Allies introduce advanced capabilities. Improvements in interoperability and critical capabilities should also strengthen the European pillar in NATO.

The Way Ahead

5. Against this background, the Alliance has examined areas where improvements in capabilities would make a significant contribution towards meeting the challenges of the future. The aim has been to develop a common assessment of requirements for the full range of Alliance missions. In identifying the most important areas for improvement, and with a special focus on interoperability, the work has concentrated on the deployability and mobility of Alliance forces, on their sustainability and logistics, their survivability and effective engagement capability, and on command and control and information systems. In some cases it has been possible at this early stage to set out the steps to be taken to improve some capabilities. In others, further work is required to examine different options and make firm recommendations about improvements to be made. The initiative emphasises the importance of the resource dimension of this work as well as the requirement for better coordination between defence planning disciplines; takes into consideration the ability of European Allies to undertake WEU-led operations; addresses ways to improve capabilities of multinational formations; and considers issues such as training, doctrine, human factors, concept development and experimentation, and standardisation.

6. As part of this Defence Capabilities Initiative, Heads of State and Government have established a temporary High Level Steering Group (HLSG) to oversee the implementation of the DCI and to meet the requirement of coordination and harmonisation among relevant planning disciplines including for Allies concerned force planning, and with NATO standardisation, with the aim of achieving lasting effects on improvements in capabilities and interoperability."

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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