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NATO and Nuclear Weapons


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Acronym coverage of NATO, Disarmament Diplomacy

For more recent coverage return to the NATO page.


NATO Summit, Bucharest, 2 - 4 April 2008

NATO Heads of State and Government met in Bucharest against a backdrop of strained relations between the US and Russia, particularly concerning missile defence and the siting of US missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. NATO also faces increasingly difficult conditions in Afghanistan.

Background Information

NATO Official Pages

NATO Review Special Issue on Bucharest Summit

Audio File of NATO Spokesman James Appathurai on Bucharest Summit

NATO Bucharest Summit Web Page

NATO Member States

United States

Press Briefing by US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley

NATO on the Way to Bucharest 2008, Richard G. Olson, Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO

US Mission to NATO Web Page, Various Bucharest Articles

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on NATO


Interview with Ambassador Stefanini

Non-Governmental Reports

The Heritage Foundation

Center for Strategic and International Studies


France and NATO from Centre for European Reform

Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World (Report by five senior retired NATO commanders)

The CATO Institute

Congressional Research Service

Royal United Services Institute

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Foreign Policy in Focus

The Brookings Institution

NATO Foreign Ministers' Meeting, December 2007

Earlier NATO Documents

Riga Summit, November 28 - 29 2006

NATO's Riga summit was held from November 28 - 29, 2006, and attempted to focus on the rather loose concept of NATO transformation. Martin Butcher attended the summit on behalf of the Acronym Institute. Read his reports below.

Updates from the Summit

Background Documents and Analysis

This Riga summit was orginally intended to conclude the business of transformation, but will now be supplemented by a summit in 2008 at venue yet to be made public. The transformation agenda is controversial, and this debate is likely to continue for some time.

NATO held its last summit in Istanbul in June 2004. The summit was dominated by divisions over Iraq, with the US and Britain pushing for a greater NATO commitment to Iraq, whilst France refused to back plans to train Iraqi forces inside Iraq. These debates have largely subsided, but there is a feeling in many countries that the invasion of Iraq, and subsequent occupation, has meant that the mission led by NATO in Afghanistan has not received either the resources or political priority necessary for it to succeed. 2006 has seen the unprecedented spectacle of a Secretary-General of NATO being forced to beg publicly for troop contributions to strengthen the NATO presence in Afghanistan.

Despite the end of the Cold War the US continues to deploy nuclear weapons in six European countries under the auspices of NATO, including in the UK at RAF Lakenheath. The UK's Trident nuclear system is also assigned to NATO, as is a portion of the US Trident force.

NATO's current Strategic Concept dates from the Washington DC summit of 1999. It maintains territorial defence of the NATO member states in Europe as the core purpose of the Alliance, and continues to describe nuclear weapons as providing the "supreme guarantee" of Alliance security. While some academics, and even national governments, have given some thought to the need for a rewrite of the Strategic Concept to reflect the transformation agenda, there is absolutely no consensus amongst the allies as to the nature of a possible new Strategic Concept – and very strong differences about the continuing role of nuclear weapons in NATO. The last exercise in which the potential use of nuclear weapons was mooted, CMX 2002, collapsed in failure as many nations refused to contemplate the possibility of such use, even in an exercise in which the scenario posited the imminent use of chemical and biological weapons against a NATO nation.

NATO Nuclear Policy

Official Documents

Istanbul Summit, 28 - 29 June 2004

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