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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 41, November 1999

Hungarian PM Raises Fears over NATO Nuclear Deployment Options

During a visit to Canada in late October, Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, told reporters that Hungary would be willing to receive NATO nuclear weapons on its territory if the Alliance - which Hungary joined earlier this year - decided such a move was necessary. Orban also stressed the importance of NATO's existing nuclear weapons. His remarks caused consternation in Moscow, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vladimir Rakhmanin stating on November 2 that they constituted "a direct violation of the Russia-NATO Founding Act, in which NATO countries confirmed that they had no intentions, plans or causes to deploy [nuclear] weapons in the territories of new members. ... [Orban's comments] are totally inappropriate and incorrect and... simply dangerous." On November 2, the Hungarian newspaper Napi Magyarorszag, quoted the Prime Minister trying to defuse the storm by remarking: "There is no crisis situation at present that would justify such a request [to deploy nuclear weapons], and the topic only arose in Canada because there is a debate about the future of NATO's nuclear arsenal."

Report: Russia unnerved by Hungary remarks, Associated Press, November 2.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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