NATO defense ministers agreed in principle during a March 10-11 meeting to set up a new arms control body, but discussions about the committee’s task and its relationship to a broader review of NATO deterrence posture continue.
The creation of the new body, known as the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Control and Disarmament Committee, was in response to a directive from member states at last November’s Lisbon summit, where they agreed to a new Strategic Concept to guide alliance actions in the coming years. At that meeting, the members directed the NATO Council, the alliance’s principal political decision-making body, to establish a new arms control committee in the context of a larger review of NATO’s deterrence and defense posture. (See ACT, December 2010.)
A senior U.S. official told Arms Control Today March 17 that he expects the new committee not only to provide arms control and disarmament input into NATO’s deterrence review, but also to offer a forum for appropriate consultations among NATO members on nuclear and conventional arms control more generally. “We hope that this committee would remain completely independent of the deterrence review and will become a permanent body, though that is still opposed by one party,” he said, clearly referring to
The committee could meet at the level of deputy heads of NATO missions in
The U.S. official described possible areas of work of the disarmament body by saying that “it could support NATO’s role in arms control if and when tactical nuclear weapons are included” in talks about a New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty follow-on agreement or “if we have talks on a [Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty] follow-on agreement.”
Defense ministers also approved terms of reference for the deterrence and defense posture review, but NATO members continue to disagree on the focus and timing of that review. Because of these disagreements, diplomatic sources said, the classified guidelines simply repeat broad language from the
A work plan for the deterrence review is likely to be approved by NATO foreign ministers when they meet in