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Policy intervention | 17 May 2012

Group Statement on Outcomes Required from the NATO Chicago Summit

The statement is also available in German, in French, in Italian, in Russian, and in Spanish


NATO’s Leadership Challenge at the Chicago Summit

1. Context

The Strategic Concept adopted by NATO members in Lisbon in 2010 left many unanswered questions concerning NATO’s nuclear policy and posture. A Deterrence and Defence Posture Review (DDPR) was therefore set up to address them. This will report to the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20-21 2012 and so far, the signs do not look good. A report that provides nothing in the way of a strategy for changing the status quo is likely to be the outcome.

At the same time, planned modernisation of US nuclear weapons in Europe will, by its very nature, lead to an enhanced NATO nuclear capability on the continent at a time when all should be working to reduce the need for it.

In our view, the DDPR represents a major opportunity to make a comprehensive, coherent and balanced assessment of the mix of capabilities required by the Alliance in the years ahead, be they nuclear, conventional and/or missile defence. It offers an opportunity to think through the linkages between these capabilities and to spell out the potential contribution that arms control and disarmament can make to reducing nuclear risks in Europe while improving the security environment on the continent overall.

The DDPR moreover has been conducted against the backdrop of substantial cuts in defence expenditure across the Alliance, against a period of more troubled relations with Russia, and in the context of lessons that must be learned from operations in Libya. To be of any value, it must reflect on and respond to these developments – and provide a strategy that will both reduce nuclear risks in Europe and strengthen NATO’s overall defence capabilities against 21st Century threats. If it does not do so, it will be an ineffectual Summit of little historic consequence.


2. NATO Nuclear Policy and Chicago: Desirable Outcomes

In this context, we believe at the Chicago Summit, NATO leaders must:

  • Re-commit to what they signed up to in Lisbon, namely the goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons – including through further reductions – and use the summit to play a constructive role in advancing this agenda;
  • Act to change NATO’s declaratory policy to state that the fundamental role of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack, bringing it into line with the declaratory policies of the states principally providing NATO nuclear capability;
  • Announce an immediate reduction of 50 per cent in the total number of US non-strategic nuclear weapons stationed in Europe, implemented as a 50 per cent cut in the number of weapons held in each individual country currently hosting them. This step would be a concrete contribution to nuclear risk reduction while doing nothing to undermine the symbolism of a US nuclear presence in Europe or the principle of nuclear burden and risk sharing among alliance members;
  • Express a desire to see a further reduction and consolidation of NATO non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, leading to their eventual elimination or consolidation to the United States within 5 years. This should be done through a process of reciprocal steps taken by both NATO and Russia, with the final timing and pace of this action being determined by broad political and security developments between NATO and Russia, including developments in Russia’s tactical nuclear posture.
  • Give greater prominence to the contribution of arms control and disarmament in NATO security policy more generally, by making the new Weapons of Mass Destruction Control and Disarmament Committee in NATO permanent and by using it for internal Alliance consultations on arms control and disarmament issues that have the potential to enhance alliance security overall.
  • Commit to an on-going forward process of review after Chicago, and to the adoption of new measures as the situation allows, to ensure NATO’s defence and deterrence posture stays strong, flexible, and relevant to emerging threats and capabilities in future. Within the process of the on-going review, NATO should seek to adapt existing arrangements for nuclear sharing and consultations within the alliance, and move to adopt a diverse and robust set of measures aimed at Article V re-assurances to member states on the periphery of NATO.


3. Setting Nuclear Policy in Wider Context

In keeping with the need to set nuclear policy in the context of wider conventional and ballistic missile defence capabilities, and to ensure that the Alliance is responding to changed economic and strategic circumstances, NATO leaders must also use the Chicago Summit to:

  • Ensure the most efficient and cost effective use of resources through an increased emphasis on collective conventional defence solutions. This means joint defence projects, regional cooperation, and the pooling and sharing of assets. This is essential to leveraging a more effective contribution from Europe and to the provision of adequate and credible conventional forces which represent the core of NATO’s collective deterrence and defence strategy, its ability to fulfil the Article 5 commitment and to protect the interests of NATO members at strategic distance. Defence cuts will inevitably affect the planned contributions by members. Without an effective collective response NATO will either face a loss of credibility or an unwelcome need to scale back its level of ambition.

In addition, NATO must also:

  • Establish the appropriate role and relative priority for the implementation of its territorial missile defence capability. Missile defence enjoys broad support as an important addition to NATO’s collective deterrence and defence approach and for its role in strengthening the transatlantic link and reinforcing NATO cohesion. Inevitably, however, implementation of the NATO missile defence capability will absorb scarce defence resources and leaders must give greater clarity on both the overall cost to European countries of missile defence, and on the relative importance of this expenditure given competing demands for scarce resources.

Lastly, all aspects of the internal NATO DDPR will have an impact on relations with Russia. NATO must therefore use the Chicago summit to:

  • Indicate a desire, in good faith, to pursue all avenues of cooperation with Russia on the full range of Euro-Atlantic security issues, including ballistic missile defence, and taking steps to increase warning and decision time for political and military leaders so that no nation fears a short warning conventional attack or perceives the need to deter or defend against such an attack with non-strategic nuclear weapons. Two decades after the Cold War ended this remains crucial for European security as a whole.

NATO’s aspirations for progress in several areas are also currently hostage to differences with Russia over missile defence. This impasse is neither in NATO’s, nor Russia’s interests. Only political leadership and dialogue can change this situation. The Summit in Chicago must be used to help break the dead-lock.



  1. Malcolm Rifkind MP, former Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  2. Javier Solana, Former NATO Secretary General, Former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and former Foreign Minister of Spain
  3. Margaret Beckett MP, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  4. Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister of France
  5. Volker Rühe, former Defence Minister of Germany
  6. Ana Palacio, former Foreign Minister of Spain and former Vice President of the World Bank
  7. Massimo D’Alema, former Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister of Italy
  8. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO)
  9. Des Browne, former Defence Secretary of the United Kingdom
  10. Paul Quilès, former Defence Minister and former President of the Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the National Assembly of France
  11. Arturo Parisi, former Defence Minister of Italy
  12. Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference
  13. Hikmet Çetin, former Foreign Minister of Turkey
  14. Søren Gade, former Defence Minister of Denmark
  15. Giorgio La Malfa, former Minister for European Affairs of Italy
  16. Louis Michel, former Deputy Prime Minister, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium
  17. David Owen, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  18. Niels Helveg Petersen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark
  19. Jan Kavan, former Foreign Minister, former Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
  20. Hans van den Broek, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and former European Commissioner for Foreign Relations
  21. Geoffrey Howe, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  22. John Reid, former Defence Secretary of the United Kingdom
  23. Douglas Hurd, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  24. Michael Boyce, Admiral, Former Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom
  25. Charles Guthrie, General, Former Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom
  26. Klaus Naumann, General (ret), former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and former Chief of Defence of Germany
  27. Bernard Norlain, General (ret), former Commander of the Tactical Air Force and Military Counsellor to the Prime Minister of France
  28. Tom King, former Defence Minister of the United Kingdom
  29. Ulrich Weisser, Vice-Admiral (ret), former Director Plans and Policy and Chief Political Advisory Group to the Minister of Defence of Germany
  30. Carlo Trezza, Former Special Envoy to the Italian Foreign Minister for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non Proliferation
  31. Uta Zapf MdB, Member of the German parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Chairwoman of the Sub-Committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
  32. James Arbuthnot MP, Chair of the Defence Select Committee of the United Kingdom
  33. Menzies Campbell MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats
  34. Shirley Williams, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
  35. Margherita Boniver MP, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy
  36. John Stanley MP, former Minister for the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom
  37. David Hannay, former British Ambassador to the European Communities and the UN
  38. Giancarlo Aragona, former Italian Ambassador to Russia, former Ambassador to the UK and former Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  39. John Kerr, former British Ambassador to the United States and former Head, UK Diplomatic Service
  40. Federica Mogherini MP, member of the Chamber of Deputies, Secretary of the Parliamentary Defence Committee of Italy
  41. Elizabeth Symons, former Minister for the Middle East, Minister for Defence Procurement of the United Kingdom
  42. Michael Ancram, member of the Intelligence and Security Committee in the House of Commons, United Kingdom
  43. David Ramsbotham, former Adjutant General to Her Majesty the Queen, United Kingdom
  44. Francesco Calogero, Former Secretary General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  45. Carlo Schaerf, Chairman of the National Committee for the Physical Sciences of the Ministry of Public Education and the National Committee for Nuclear Research of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Italy
  46. Ivo Šlaus, Former Member of Parliament and of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Croatia
  47. Luigi Ramponi, Member of the Italian Senate and former Commander of the Guardia di Finanza



About the ELN

This group statement is issued only in the names of those who have endorsed it and is not
issued on behalf of the ELN organisation as a whole. It has however emerged from a subgroup of participants in the European Leadership Network (ELN).


The statement and press release are available for download here:

ELN Chicago Statement_English

ELN Chicago Statement_Press Release_May 2012