NATO's Nuclear Weapons: The Rationale for 'No First Use'

Jack Mendelsohn

The 19 nations of NATO have an opportunity to bring their outdated nuclear weapons first-use policy into alignment with the alliance's stated objectives and commitments. Although NATO has sought to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, it maintains its 30-year-old policy of "flexible response," which allows the alliance to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict, including in reply to an attack with conventional weapons.

During its 50th anniversary summit in Washington in April, the alliance did agree to begin a process to review arms control and disarmament options in light of the "reduced salience" of nuclear weapons. NATO members, through the North Atlantic Council, are now working on proposals that will be considered at a NATO ministerial meeting at the end of this year. While strong U.S. resistance to even a review of NATO nuclear policy bodes ill for a move away from nuclear first use, the stage has at least been set for a new debate. By pledging not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict, NATO could reduce the political acceptability and military attractiveness of nuclear weapons, strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime, enhance the credibility of its deterrence policy and help to ease some of the tensions in the NATO-Russian relationship.

The Evolution of Doctrine

The readiness of NATO to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict has been evident from the beginning of the alliance. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, drafted in early 1949 before the Soviet Union had tested a nuclear weapon, commits the allies to come to the defense of all members in the event of an attack. This commitment was understood by both the Americans and the Europeans to be a nuclear guarantee for the alliance, which, in the late 1940s and 1950s, faced what was perceived to be a hostile Soviet Union with an overwhelming advantage in conventional forces. At that critical moment, the alliance was both obligated and prepared to consider the massive use of nuclear weapons to respond to major conventional aggression.

In the early 1950s, political pressure in the United States to reduce its defense budget, and allied reluctance to spend the money to build up their own militaries, further encouraged a policy of threatening to use nuclear weapons against counter-value targets (such as cities and other "soft" targets) on a large scale and early in the event of a conflict in Europe. In December 1954, NATO agreed to integrate tactical nuclear weapons into its own defensive strategy, and by the end of 1960 there were 2,500 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Western Europe. In December 1956, NATO adopted a Military Committee document (MC-14/2) that formalized the alliance's emphasis on nuclear weapons as the key component of its defensive strategy. The credibility of this doctrine of "massive retaliation" was already strained, however, by the time of its formal adoption by NATO.

The launch of Sputnik in August 1957 dramatically demonstrated the growth of Moscow's ability to threaten the U.S. homeland and called into question U.S. willingness to respond to a conventional attack in Europe with the full strength of its nuclear arsenal. The strategic significance of this development was not lost on NATO's European members. For example, in 1958 Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, who four years earlier had stated that NATO nuclear weapons would necessarily be used against conventional attacks, was asking whether, "in the event of minor Russian aggression with conventional forces," it was realistic to expect "the West would use its nuclear deterrent as weapons against the cities of Russia and receive in return Russian retaliation which would put the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. out of business?" He concluded: "For us to act in this way would be to commit national suicide. I do not believe it will happen. When both sides have nuclear sufficiency, the deterrent will merely serve to deter each side from using it as a weapon."<1>

After a great deal of debate in the 1960s, in December 1967 the alliance adopted a new nuclear strategy in MC 14/3 known as "flexible response." NATO formally abandoned the strategy of massive retaliation (which had actually been dropped by the Eisenhower administration before the end of its term) and committed the alliance to respond to any aggression, short of general nuclear attack, at the level of force—conventional or nuclear—at which it was initiated. The alliance retained the option, however, to use nuclear weapons first if its initial response to a conventional attack did not prove adequate to containing the aggressor, and to deliberately escalate to general nuclear war, if necessary.

While adoption of the flexible response policy allowed the alliance to avoid a policy of prompt and mutual suicide (as many of NATO's tactical nuclear weapons would have detonated on alliance territory), NATO still continued to rely on the first use of nuclear weapons to deter or counter a major conventional assault. In support of this policy, NATO's tactical nuclear weapons stockpile in Europe grew to around 7,400 weapons in the early 1970s, including nuclear artillery shells, nuclear-armed missiles, air-delivered gravity bombs, special atomic demolition munitions (landmines), surface-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and anti-submarine depth bombs. (See chart below.)

In 1979, in response to Soviet efforts to modernize its intermediate-range nuclear missile force with the triple-warheaded SS-20, NATO adopted a modernization plan of its own involving the deployment of 572 tactical nuclear warheads on ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) and Pershing II ballistic missiles. After an elaborate interplay of negotiations, threats, walkouts, deployments and a significant regime change in Moscow (Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in March 1985), the United States and the Soviet Union agreed in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty to ban all ground-based nuclear-armed ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

In October 1990, the two Germanys were united under the terms of the "Final Settlement with Respect to Germany," negotiated by the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, in association with the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and France. Unified Germany remained a member of NATO but, according to the final settlement, neither foreign armed forces nor nuclear weapons could be stationed in that portion of united Germany that had previously been East Germany. In effect, the final settlement denuclearized a swath of NATO territory in the very center of Europe, a provision of particular interest to the Soviet Union, which sought to prevent NATO nuclear forces from coming closer to its frontiers.

Nuclear Weapons in the 1990s

As the Soviet Union wound down in the late 1980s, the security environment in Europe changed fundamentally, allowing a long-overdue reconsideration of NATO's nuclear strategy. In July 1990 in the London Declaration, NATO announced a review of the alliance's political and military strategy to reflect "a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons" and lead to the adoption of "a new NATO strategy making nuclear forces truly weapons of last resort."<2>

In early 1991, after the withdrawal and destruction of its INF systems and the voluntary retirement of about 2,400 excess tactical nuclear weapons, NATO's European-based nuclear arsenal stood at approximately 4,000 tactical warheads. Then, in September of that year, in the aftermath of the failed coup in Moscow, President Bush announced a major unilateral withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons worldwide. Gorbachev announced reciprocal Soviet withdrawals the following month. All U.S. ground-based and sea-based tactical weapons were affected, leaving only several hundred (around 400) air-delivered gravity bombs in NATO's European-based nuclear arsenal by the end of the decade. (France and Britain subsequently decided to phase out their own tactical nuclear weapons.)

NATO's November 1991 "Strategic Concept," which resulted from the review announced in London (adopted six weeks before the dissolution of the Soviet Union), did not expressly include the "weapons of last resort" language in the London Declaration, but it did greatly scale back the pre-eminent role of nuclear weapons. The 1991 concept noted that "the fundamental purpose of the nuclear forces of the Allies is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war." It stated specifically that "the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated by [NATO] are…remote." The allies "can therefore significantly reduce their sub-strategic nuclear forces."<3>

In early 1994, the alliance—led by the United States and Germany—began to move toward expanding NATO membership to countries in Eastern and Southern Europe. The general debate over alliance expansion raised the issue of nuclear weapons deployment in the potential new member-states. Sharply criticized by Moscow, which considered itself the prime (if not the only) target of the alliance's nuclear forces, the freedom to deploy nuclear weapons in new NATO members was just as staunchly defended by NATO. In September 1995, NATO released its "Enlargement Study," which stated explicitly that the "new members will be expected to support the concept of deterrence and the essential role nuclear weapons play in the Alliance's strategy of war prevention as set forth in the Strategic Concept."<4>

The new member-states—the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland—all sought protection under NATO's nuclear umbrella without pressing for actual nuclear deployments on their territories. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, for example, stated in April 1997 that he could "perceive no security requirement for stationing nuclear weapons on Polish territory." In the end, the NATO allies explicitly stated in the May 1997 so-called Founding Act that "they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members…." However, they also indicated in the same document that they did not see "any need to change any aspect of NATO's nuclear posture or nuclear policy—and do not foresee any future need to do so." In addition, the allies noted that they had "no intention, no plan, and no reason to establish nuclear weapon storage sites on the territory of those members, whether through the construction of new nuclear storage facilities or the adaptation of old nuclear storage facilities."<5>

The Founding Act's self-satisfied statement on "no need to change any aspect" of its nuclear policy notwithstanding, in the months leading up to NATO's 50th anniversary summit in Washington, the governments of Germany, Canada and the Netherlands took steps to urge NATO to consider a no-first-use policy in connection with the revision of the Strategic Concept being prepared for the anniversary celebration. On October 20, 1998, the German Social Democrat and Green parties signed a coalition agreement pledging that the new government "will advocate a lowering of the alert status for nuclear weapons and renunciation of the first use of nuclear weapons." German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer expanded on this point in a Der Spiegel interview published on November 23, 1998, stating that he believed the world had changed sufficiently to allow NATO to consider the adoption of a no-first-use policy. On December 3, the Dutch Parliament passed a resolution (NR 22/26200-V) that called upon NATO to consider the adoption of a no-first-use policy.

The response from Clinton administration officials was quick and sharp. During a December 8 press conference in Brussels, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the United States "do[es] not believe that a review is necessary" and that the alliance has "the right nuclear strategy." But the calls for a change in NATO nuclear policy continued. On December 10, the Canadian Parliament's Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Trade released a report, Canada and the Nuclear Challenge: Reducing the Political Value of Nuclear Weapons for the Twenty-First Century, which included a recommendation that Ottawa urge NATO to review its nuclear weapons policy.

While, ultimately, no such no-first-use policy was adopted or even discussed at the Washington summit NATO's 1999 Strategic Concept and the summit communiqué do reflect a slight change in alliance policy. (See box.) The new Strategic Concept continues to point out that "the fundamental purpose of the nuclear forces of the Allies is political…" (Paragraph 62). The new pronouncement acknowledges, however, that "with the radical changes in the security situation, including reduced conventional forces levels in Europe and increased reaction times, NATO's ability to defuse a crisis through diplomatic and other means or, should it be necessary, to mount a successful conventional defense has significantly improved." As a result, the document continues, the circumstances in which nuclear weapons might have to be used by the alliance are "extremely remote" (Paragraph 64).

More importantly, however, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy both intervened to ensure that a review of NATO's nuclear policy would be initiated by the North Atlantic Council. In its communiqué, the alliance agreed "in light of overall strategic developments and the reduced salience of nuclear weapons...[to]...consider options for confidence- and security-building measures, verification, non-proliferation and arms control and disarmament. The Council in Permanent Session will propose a process to Ministers in December for considering such options."

Canadian Senator Douglas Roche, the former ambassador for disarmament affairs, interprets this statement as a commitment to initiate a review of NATO's nuclear posture. On April 24, Roche released an "Analysis of NATO Action on Nuclear Weapons," in which Axworthy is quoted as saying that NATO acknowledged "that such a review would be appropriate and that there would be directions to the NATO Council to start the mechanics of bringing that about." U.S. State Department officials will say only that all aspects of NATO nuclear policy are under discussion in connection with NATO's new initiative on weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This initiative, which involves information sharing, defense planning, civilian protection, non-proliferation assistance to other nations, and a WMD Center to coordinate NATO efforts was approved at the summit as a means of strengthening alliance support for U.S. non-proliferation policy.<6>

Should NATO Reconsider?

Some argue that the alliance's current posture of "flexible response," with the current understanding that the use of nuclear weapons would be considered only in "extremely remote" circumstances, is the right one and should not be changed. Others believe that this policy is out of date and should be re-examined by the alliance since

it lacks any military or strategic rationale;
undercuts the various crisis management and humanitarian justifications for NATO's out-of-area operations;
contravenes U.S., British and French commitments not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states;
and weakens the non-proliferation regime.

An Absence of a Rationale

NATO's nuclear first-use policy lacks any military rationale. The alliance's threat during the Cold War to use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear aggression, however contradictory and self-deterring such a policy might have been, was considered helpful in reassuring Europe that some military response was available to counter the Warsaw Pact's significant quantitative advantage in conventional forces. Today, however, the alliance enjoys an even greater conventional superiority over any potential enemy or combination of enemies in Europe than the Warsaw Pact ever had over NATO.

The alliance's overwhelming and unchallengeable conventional advantages make it difficult to conceive of circumstances under which NATO would require nuclear weapons to successfully manage any crisis in Europe. The only state that could conceivably mount a serious military threat to NATO sometime in the future is Russia. But this likelihood is "extremely remote" and hardly justifies a general NATO policy of nuclear first use. Moreover, NATO's first-use policy is viewed in Moscow as directed primarily—if not solely—at Russia and, as noted above in connection with the Founding Act, remains a major irritant as NATO expands eastward.

The key alliance strategic rationale for nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO is that they "provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance…[and] with strategic nuclear forces." Linkage to U.S. strategic nuclear forces was an integral part of NATO's strategy during the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, however, and with the change in NATO's most likely mission from territorial defense to out-of-area crisis management, linkage to U.S. strategic nuclear retaliatory forces is far less critical–perhaps not even relevant—to alliance security and solidarity. In any case, adopting a no-first-use policy would not interfere with NATO's link to U.S. strategic retaliatory forces. A policy of no first use impacts on the circumstances surrounding the decision to use nuclear weapons, not on the choice of nuclear weapons—tactical, strategic or both—that will be used once the decision is taken.

There is no non-nuclear threat to U.S. or alliance security that would warrant a nuclear response. In 1993, three respected members of the U.S. national security establishment, McGeorge Bundy, William J. Crowe and Sidney Drell, wrote: "There is no vital interest of the U.S., except the deterrence of nuclear attack, that cannot be met by prudent conventional readiness. There is no visible case where the U.S. could be forced to choose between defeat and the first use of nuclear weapons."<7> Nothing has occurred since that statement was written to make nuclear weapons more critical to maintaining European security. If anything, the threat of using nuclear weapons has become even more anachronistic.

Out-Of-Area Intervention

As the intervention in Kosovo demonstrated, NATO is now seemingly prepared to undertake out-of-area military missions for a number of reasons: to resolve conflicts, to manage crises, to promote democracy, to defend moral principles or to protect human rights. At the same time, NATO has also made it clear that it seeks to perform these missions without putting its troops in harm's way and with a minimum amount of collateral damage to innocent civilians and the target country. NATO's supreme commander, U.S. General Wesley Clark, for one, has acknowledged that he was compelled to sacrifice basic logic of warfare to maintain the political cohesion of the alliance given the anti-war pressures felt by coalition governments in Germany and Italy.<8>

Apart from the fact that neither the NATO rationales for intervention nor its minimalist criteria for casualties and collateral damage can be supported by the use of nuclear weapons, some NATO allies—and, more importantly, their publics—had serious misgivings over the extent of the destruction wrought in Kosovo by conventional bombing. During various stages of the 11-week war, Italy, Greece and Germany were all on the verge of calling for an end to the attacks. In the case of Germany, Foreign Minister Fischer narrowly averted a vote in his Green Party, which makes up a significant minority of the ruling Red-Green coalition, calling for an end to all German participation in the bombing campaign.

The United States remains committed to expanding NATO's future missions in response to the "complex new risks to...peace and stability, including oppression, ethnic conflict, economic distress, [and] the collapse of political order...."<9> The problems raised by Kosovo, however, may have made it more difficult for the alliance to authorize even conventional out-of-area military operations in the future. If an intervention is authorized, the possibility of a proposal within NATO to initiate the threat to use or the use of nuclear weapons will inevitably cause even the most determined of the allies to object. Since, under these conditions, it is highly improbable that the alliance will ever reach a consensus to employ nuclear weapons in an out-of-area intervention, much less in support of U.S. interests in other areas of the world, NATO's first-use option is neither a credible deterrent nor a necessary policy.

It is not possible to reconcile the morally repugnant use of a nuclear weapon, or any weapon of mass destruction, with the pursuit of limited, humanitarian goals. As a point of law, this was made explicit by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its July 1996 advisory opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons. At that time, 10 of the ICJ's 14 judges determined that the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons is illegal in all but one possible circumstance: a threat to the very existence of the state.

Of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China), only the two non-NATO powers—China and Russia—have declared nuclear-use policies that do not run counter to the ICJ opinion: Beijing has a no-first-use policy and Moscow says that it reserves the right to use all available forces and means, including nuclear weapons, if as a result of military aggression, there is a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation as a sovereign state.

Moreover, it is politically unwise for NATO to continue to maintain a first-use option if it seriously intends to execute out-of-area conflict resolution, crisis management or humanitarian missions (as opposed to the traditional defense of territory or in response to an aggressor). As long as NATO refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons, it is difficult to avoid the perception that enforcement of democratic values is being backed by a nuclear threat. Indeed, this perception drove Ukraine's Supreme Council (or Rada) in March 1999 to attempt to abolish the country's non-nuclear-weapon-state status in view of NATO's aggressive plans toward non-members. Although the Rada's position was subsequently dismissed as parliamentary rhetoric by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, its action illustrates the depth of the passions stirred by NATO's intervention. To avoid the perception that out-of-area operations might escalate to the nuclear level, NATO would clearly be better served if it operated under a policy that confined the use of nuclear weapons to core deterrence, rather than one that is based on first use.

Negative Security Assurances

All 19 nations of NATO, including its three nuclear-capable members, are bound to the object and purposes of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Under the treaty, the five recognized nuclear-weapon states have committed themselves to respect a broad prohibition on using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. Pledged in the form of negative security assurances (NSAs), the most recent being the one reaffirmed just before the 1995 NPT conference that extended the treaty indefinitely, the nuclear-weapon states promise never to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT, except in response to an attack by such a state in alliance with a nuclear-weapon state.<10>

The 1995 U.S. NSA reads:

The United States affirms that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in the case of an invasion or any attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.<11>

It is important to note that the NSA makes no exceptions to allow for a nuclear response to a chemical or biological weapons attack.

NATO's first-use doctrine against conventional forces is clearly contrary to the NPT-related NSA commitments of the United States, Britain and France. In addition, the United States, the key NATO nuclear power, maintains the option to use nuclear weapons in response to a chemical or biological weapons attack, and implies that NATO has the same policy. While this policy had been present in U.S. Defense Department documents in the early 1990s, it was articulated in April 1996 by Robert Bell, senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council at the time of the U.S. signature of a protocol to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (ANWFZ) Treaty. Protocol I of the so-called Treaty of Pelindaba pledges the United States not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any treaty party. Bell, however, said U.S. signature "will not limit options available to the United States in response to an attack by an ANWFZ party using weapons of mass destruction." [Emphasis added.] In December 1998, Walter Slocombe, under secretary of defense for policy, stated: "It is simply an issue of making sure that we continue to maintain a high level of uncertainty or high level of concern, if you will, at what the potential aggressor would face if he used [CBW] or indeed took other aggressive acts against the alliance." [Emphasis added.]<12>

For the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, and by implication NATO, the most powerful conventional alliance, to insist that they need the threat of first use of nuclear weapons to deter potential adversaries raises the question why other, much weaker nations, confronted by hostile neighbors, do not need them as well. Moreover, a U.S. and NATO first-use policy against, in effect, conventional, chemical and biological weapons suggests that nuclear weapons have many useful military roles. This reinforces the value and prestige attributed to nuclear weapons and undermines efforts by the United States and other key NATO countries to persuade non-nuclear-weapon states to refrain from developing their own nuclear arsenals.

'Calculated Ambiguity' and Deterrence

Many proponents of a nuclear first-use policy admit that neither the United States nor NATO will ever employ nuclear weapons except in retaliation against a nuclear attack. Nonetheless, these proponents argue that a no-first-use policy should not be adopted because uncertainty—or "calculated ambiguity"—as to the nature of the alliance response serves to deter a potential aggressor from initiating a chemical or biological weapons attack. This approach was clearly laid out on February 5, 1998, when State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said:

If any country were foolish enough to attack the U.S., our allies or our forces with chemical or biological weapons, our response would be swift, devastating and overwhelming. We have worked hard to fashion non-nuclear responses to the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction in order to give military commanders and the president a range of options from which to choose.

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry reaffirmed the approach during a March 1998 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Chemical Weapons Convention:

[W]e are able to mount a devastating response without using nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, we do not rule out in advance any capability available to us. I stress that these policies have to do with a situation in which the U.S., our allies and our forces have been attacked with chemical or biological weapons. [Emphasis added.]

The question of whether the veiled U.S. threat of nuclear retaliation against chemical or biological weapons attacks successfully deterred Saddam Hussein from using chemical or biological weapons against allied forces during the Gulf War may never be answered with absolute certainty. The utility of a policy of "calculated ambiguity," however, has been greatly diminished with the disclosures in memoirs by senior policymakers that whatever policy was implied, the United States never had, under any circumstances, any intention of using nuclear weapons during the war.<13> As a result of this public record, it is quite possible that "calculated ambiguity" is no longer a credible policy (if it ever was), and that there is little deterrent value left in the U.S. or NATO threat of nuclear first use in any non-nuclear military conflict.

Taking the Lead

The principal threats to the security of NATO and its member-states over the next decades will not come from Russia, but rather from regional dictators, rogue states and violent sub-national groups. The alliance's best defense against these threats is not its nuclear arsenal—the use of which has no military or political justification—but rather its overwhelming conventional military superiority, unsurpassed intelligence gathering and processing capabilities and, last but not least, the international non-proliferation regime.

As NATO's primary arsenal nation, the United States should be the one to take the lead in urging a revision of NATO's nuclear posture. The opportunity was missed in 1994 when the United States conducted its Nuclear Posture Review and reportedly concluded that there was no military requirement for tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. But at that time, the Europeans insisted on the continued presence of these weapons as a hedge against the unknown (meaning a Russian resurgence) and to maintain a tangible "link" to the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Now, for a number of political reasons—the administration's overall weakness, a conservative Congress, the upcoming presidential elections, and a "don't-rock-the-boat" foreign policy—Washington is unwilling to disturb the nuclear status quo.

As a result, it has fallen to Canada and the European members of NATO to push for a nuclear policy review. At least some alliance members recognize that, in the absence of any serious military or strategic challenge to the NATO nations, the alliance's current nuclear first-use policy lacks credibility and undercuts overall efforts to enhance European security. If Canada and NATO's European members can bring themselves to propose abandoning the nuclear first-use policy, the United States should be willing to accept this incremental step toward a safer and more secure world.



1. Quoted in The Entangling Alliance, Ronald E. Powaski, Greenwood Press, 1994, p. 39.

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2. "London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance," London, July 5-6, 1990, Paragraph 18.

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3. "NATO Strategic Concept," November 1991, Paragraphs 55 and 57.

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4. "NATO Study on Enlargement," Chapter 5, paragraph 45.

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5. "The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security Between NATO and the Russian Federation," Paris, May 27, 1997, Section IV.

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6. NATO Fact Sheet on WMD Initiative, April 24, 1999.

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7. See "Reducing the Nuclear Danger," Foreign Affairs, Volume 72, Number 2.

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8. William Drozdiak, "War Effort Restrained by Politics, Clark Says," The Washington Post, July 20, 1999, p. A14.

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9. "The Alliance's Strategic Concept," April 1999, Paragraph 3.

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10. Four countries remain outside the NPT: Cuba and the three de facto nuclear-weapon states—India, Israel and Pakistan.

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11. The first official U.S. declaration of negative security assurance was in 1978 at the UN. These assurances were reaffirmed by the five declared nuclear-weapons states in April 1995 and taken note of in UN Security Council Resolution 984. In addition, as a signator of the Protocols, the U.S. has pledged not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any state party to the treaties of Rarotonga (South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone), Tlateloco (Latin America NWFZ) and Pelindaba (Africa NWFZ).

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12. Interview with Walter Slocombe, under secretary of defense for policy, December 11, 1998.

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13. See, for example, Colin Powell, My American Journey, pp. 472 and 486; George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed, p. 463; and James A Baker, The Politics of Diplomacy, p. 359.

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Jack Mendelsohn, vice president and executive director of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security (LAWS) in Washington, DC, is former deputy director of the Arms Control Association.