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Rasmussen on Tallinn Ministerial:
No decisions on NATO’s nuclear policy

Rasmussen April 19, 2010 - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen presented the programme for the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, which will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, on 22 and 23 April. He highlighted as priorities the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, discussions on the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept, nuclear issues, missile defence, as well as NATO’s reform and enlargement.
Nuclear policy
In anticipation of the wish of European countries to reduce nuclear arms on their territories, Rasmussen said today:
"One of the issues to be addressed in the Strategic Concept is NATO’s nuclear policy. In preparation for that, we will discuss nuclear issues in Tallinn.
It is, of course, timely to have this discussion. Some important steps have been taken in recent weeks on nuclear issues: the new START Agreement between the US and Russia, the new US Nuclear Posture Review, and the Washington Summit on securing nuclear materials. This is a comprehensive set of steps towards reducing nuclear risks in the world, and President Obama deserves credit for the leadership he is showing on this.
No decisions will be taken in Tallinn on NATO’s nuclear policy. But I do think the principles of the NATO discussion are already clear: first, that no Ally will take unilateral decisions; second, that as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will need a nuclear deterrent.
Of course, if we discuss deterrence, it also makes sense to talk about missile defence.
My view on this is clear. I believe that, at our Lisbon Summit in November, NATO should decide to make missile defence of Alliance populations and territories a NATO mission – for three reasons:
  • First, because there is a growing missile threat to the Allies, including from Iran, and political leaders have a responsibility to protect our populations against it;
  • Second, because Europe must demonstrate its willingness to contribute to our shared defence when it comes to missile defence as well; and
  • Third, because I believe that building missile defence in a way that includes Russia would help create the true European security architecture we would all like to see.
Of course, there is still a lot of work to do to determine what that would actually mean in practical terms, and what the political implications would be, including for arms control. We will discuss that in Tallinn, with an eye to decisions at the Summit in Lisbon."
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