Ministers Discuss Future of NATO’s Nuclear Policy and Prospects for Missile Defence

BELGIUM–(ENEWSPF)–23 April 2010.  NATO Foreign Ministers discussed in Tallinn how to take forward the Alliance’s nuclear posture, with an eye to the new Strategic Concept, as well as issues surrounding missile defence.

Ministers agreed that the nuclear issue is important in NATO’s work on the Strategic Concept, and that the Alliance remains, as always, firmly committed to maintaining the security of its members, but at the lowest possible level of nuclear weapons.

They stressed that a broad sharing of the burden for NATO’s nuclear policy remains essential and that decisions on the Alliance’s nuclear policy will be made together. NATO’s unity will remain absolutely firm.

Allied ministers highlighted that NATO must continue to maintain a balance between credible deterrence, and support for arms control disarmament and non-proliferation.

According to the Secretary General, in a world where nuclear weapons exist, “NATO needs a credible, effective and safely managed deterrent. Nevertheless, the Alliance must also do what it can to support arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation”. Foreign Ministers stated that missile defence, while not replacing deterrence, can complement it.

Allied representatives considered during a dinner discussion issues related to missile defence, including cost, command and control, as well as how to engage Russia on this issue “to the benefit of Europe’s security and its political unity”, as the Secretary General has said.

At the Lisbon Summit in November, NATO nations will decide whether to take on Alliance missile defence as a NATO mission.