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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 37, May 1999

A Note Regarding NATO Strategy
By Jozef Goldblat

For those who expected significant changes in the strategic concept of NATO, the results of the 50th anniversary summit meeting of the Alliance are disappointing. As hitherto, NATO is ready to be first to employ nuclear weapons in any armed conflicts, including conflicts initiated with conventional means of warfare. Nuclear weapons are to remain in Europe for an indefinite period of time, and their deployment in the territories of the new NATO member States is not excluded. The doctrine of nuclear deterrence remains a sacred cow. More than that. In acknowledging the responsibility of the United Nations in solving international disputes, the leaders of NATO States have resorted to a circumlocution which may be - and actually is - interpreted by certain Governments as allowing NATO to continue using forces against States without UN approval.

States have the right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against them. However, according to the UN Charter, which is binding on all States, measures taken in the exercise of this right must be immediately reported to the UN Security Council, the only body entitled to enforce international peace and security with military means. By disregarding this fundamental rule of civilised behaviour among nations, NATO has debilitated the authority and powers of the World Organization. It may eventually destroy the Organization to shape the fate of the globe in conformity with its own precepts.

Jozef Goldblat is Vice-President of the Geneva International Peace Research Institute.

Note: the Editor welcomes the submission of short notes on contemporary arms control issues, as well as full-length Opinion & Analysis papers, for possible inclusion in the journal.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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