US: First step in reducing NATO’s nuclear inventory is increasing transparency

Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance, April 24 2009.

From Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Department of State:  The NATO Lisbon Summit Declaration makes clear that the Alliance will seek to create the conditions needed to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons assigned to NATO. As part of this effort, we will be working with NATO to shape an approach to reduce the role and number of forward-based U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, as Russia takes reciprocal steps to reduce its non-strategic nuclear weapons and relocate them away from NATO’s borders.

At the end of last week, Secretary Clinton joined her NATO Foreign Ministerial counterparts in Berlin where she discussed how NATO’s ongoing Deterrence and Defense Posture Review can be used to advance these efforts, building on the five principles that she first outlined in Tallinn a year ago. These principles are as follows:

  • First, we should recognize that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance;
  • Second, as a nuclear Alliance, sharing nuclear risks and responsibilities widely is fundamental;
  • Third, our broad aim is to continue to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. Of course, we recognize that in the years since the Cold War ended, NATO has already dramatically reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons;
  • Fourth, Allies must broaden deterrence against the range of 21st Century threats, including by pursuing territorial missile defense, conducting Article 5 training and exercises, and drafting additional contingency plans to counter new threats to the Alliance;
  • And fifth, in any future reductions, our aim should be to seek Russian agreement to increase transparency on non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, relocate these weapons away from the territory of NATO members, and include non-strategic nuclear weapons in the next round of U.S.-Russian arms control discussions alongside strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons.

Through the DDPR, NATO will determine the appropriate mix of capabilities needed to deter and defend against existing and emerging threats to the Alliance. The mix of capabilities will include conventional, nuclear and missile defense.

In Berlin, Secretary Clinton reiterated the U.S. commitment to addressing the disparity in non-strategic weapons between the United States and Russia in the next arms control negotiation. As a first step, the United States would like to increase transparency on a reciprocal basis with Russia, including on the numbers, locations, and types of non-strategic weapons in Europe. We will consult with NATO Allies on such reciprocal actions that could be taken by each side and invite Russia to join with us to develop this initiative.

Excerpt from remarks at the U.S. Naval Academy by Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.  (photo: Max Rossi/Reuters)

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