Final Communiqué

Press Communiqué M-DPC/NPG-2(96)173
Ministerial Meetings of the
Defence Planning Committee and the
Nuclear Planning Group
held at NATO HQ Brussels 17 December 1996
  1. The Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation met in Ministerial session in Brussels on 17th December.

  2. We look forward to the Summit meeting of the North Atlantic Council to be held in Madrid on 8th and 9th July 1997. We welcomed the work now in train to adapt the Alliance's military structures as part of NATO's continuing process of transformation, and we confirmed that our collective defence capability will remain indispensable for European security and stability. This capability underpins the full range of NATO's missions and activities, including support for the development, to the satisfaction of all Allies, of the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance. It will also be crucial in particular for the success of the Stabilization Force for Bosnia-Herzegovina and hence for the wider efforts of the international community to reinforce peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia, just as it has been essential to the achievements of Operation JOINT ENDEAVOUR.

  3. We remain determined to ensure the effectiveness and coherence of our individual and collective military capabilities. They have been substantially reshaped and reoriented to take account of the strategic circumstances that have emerged since the end of the Cold War. Our forces must nevertheless continue to be properly manned, equipped, trained, and funded for the full range of the Alliance's missions.

  4. The Alliance's defence planning system plays a central role in achieving these objectives. It is being adjusted to ensure that it will remain an effective mechanism for coordinating the Allies' defence planning. The result will be a single, coherent defence planning process, to develop the forces and capabilities needed to conduct the full range of Alliance missions including WEU-led operations.

  5. As part of our regular review of our defence effort we have reviewed national defence plans for 1997-2001 and beyond and have adopted a five-year force plan aimed at the continuing adaptation of our defence plans to match the new security situation. Our force structure, while remaining fully capable of providing for the Alliance's core functions of deterrence and collective defence, is now also well suited for crisis management and peacekeeping and, in this respect, for cooperation with Partners. Plans for modernising forces generally meet Alliance requirements though in some cases budgetary constraints are delaying their implementation. The force planning process will in particular need to continue to address important areas for improvement such as deployable command, control, and communications systems; strategic mobility; sustainability; ground-based air defence; and strategic surveillance and intelligence systems.

  6. To safeguard the Alliance's ability to perform the full range of its missions, we underlined at our meeting in June the importance of developing capabilities for countering the risks stemming from the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their means of delivery. For this purpose, we asked that new force goals be developed so that these risks could be addressed within existing Alliance procedures. We approved these additional force goals today. In addition, we gave directions for further work to deal with proliferation-related risks, work which will be carried forward within the force planning process.

  7. The nuclear forces of the Alliance continue to play a unique and essential role in Alliance strategy. Their fundamental purpose is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion. We welcome the reduced emphasis on nuclear weapons as reflected in the major reductions in the size of Alliance nuclear forces and the lower readiness states progressively implemented since 1991. Alliance nuclear forces are not targeted at any country. We reaffirm that the presence of U.S. nuclear forces in Europe and committed to the Alliance remains an essential and enduring political and military link between the European and North American members of the Alliance. We also express our determination to ensure that the Alliance's nuclear forces continue to meet the highest standards of safety and security.

  8. We received with appreciation a presentation from the United States on the status of its bilateral negotiations with Russia to achieve further progress on various nuclear issues. In this context, we encourage the Russian Duma promptly to ratify START II and express our full support for the efforts to reach a successful completion of the bilateral negotiations concerning the demarcation between strategic and theatre missile defence systems.

  9. At a time when NATO has vastly reduced its nuclear forces, Russia still retains a large number of tactical nuclear weapons of all types. We call upon Russia to bring to completion the reductions in these forces announced in 1991 and 1992, and to further review its tactical nuclear weapons stockpile with a view towards making additional significant reductions. We welcome the assistance being provided by several NATO countries for the safe and secure removal and dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan and urge all Allies to look for additional ways to contribute.

  10. We welcome the completion of the removal of nuclear warheads from Belarus in accordance with the Lisbon Protocol of 1992.

  11. We welcome the completion of the agreement on a universal and verifiable zero-yield Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and encourage all states to ratify the treaty which, once in force, will contribute importantly to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We emphasize the importance of commencing the negotiations on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.