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The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has been saying ‘No to NATO’ for many years.  NATO is a military alliance which was formed before the Warsaw Pact. When the Warsaw Pact disappeared after the end of the Cold War, it had been understood that NATO would be dissolved too.  But this was not to be.  NATO had always been dominated by the US government and NATO had become one of the prime military arms supporting the US policy of, ‘full spectrum dominance’ and control over resources.   After the end of the Cold War, plans were made not only to keep NATO but to expand the membership.  Governments in central and eastern Europe turning away from totalitarian communism were keen to join this powerful ‘western’ alliance.

NATO has been expanding since its inception when the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in April 1949 by 12 countries.  Now it is comprises 28 member states and 22 Partners for Peace.  In addition the Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to make military links with Israel  (many both inside and Israel and in the US would like Israel to be a NATO member) and countries in North Africa and the Alliance has links with Contact Countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan.  In Europe, NATO has reached Russia’s western borders. Its recent plans for expansion to include Georgia, the Ukraine as NATO, up to Russia’s southern borders, has caused more problems and was one of the factors in last year’s conflict in the Caucasus.

NATO’s policy continues to be ruled by the US and the UK governments, so now it  embroiled in war in Afghanistan which is achieving very little except further suffering for the Afghan people and for the hundreds of families of the military killed and severely injured in the conflict.

The military industrial complex has played, and does play, a hugely important role in the expansion and policies of NATO.  Looking back to the 90s, the Technical Director of Lockheed Martin was Chair of the Expand NATO Committee in the US.  NATO works under a policy of ‘interoperability’ for the military equipment of the member states.  So the more NATO expanded, the more sales improved for the US military contractors.

NATO had always since its inception kept a nuclear weapons policy, but in 1999 this was reinforced.  The Strategic Concept affirmed that nuclear weapons ‘preserve the peace’ and that nuclear weapons provide the ‘supreme guarantee’ of the member states’ security.  NATO also retained policy of first use of nuclear weapons.  There was to be a ‘minimum nuclear deterrent’.  When it is considered that the UK part of the US Trident arsenal, the four submarines at Faslane, equipped to carry over 1000 times the killing power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, are ‘integrated’ into NATO, it can be seen what a nonsense word ‘minimum’ is.  Deterrent?  Did the US 14 Tridents deter the September 11th attacks?

Three NATO members – the UK, the USA and France - are nuclear weapon states, but five states that are technically non-nuclear, Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Turkey – maintain ‘a nuclear sharing’ agreement, which means that in time of war they could be given use of the 200 plus US nuclear bombs stored at the bases in their countries.  ...It was NATO too which agreed to the military bases in Poland and the Czech Republic for missile interceptors and tracking radar to support US ballistic, so-called, defence. The UK had already agreed to the use of the Fylingdales and Menwith Hill bases in North Yorkshire.   If nuclear armed NATO expansion had angered the Russian administration, the US push for the European missile defence bases angered them more.

All of the nuclear policies are in breach the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty where the nuclear weapon states signed up to bring about nuclear disarmament in ‘good faith’.  So how can they support NATO’s nuclear policies?

Yet just this year in the government’s ‘Road to 2010’ report, it was stated,

The UK places great importance on the nuclear role of NATO, as reaffirmed by the declaration of Alliance Security issued at the 2009 NATO summit. …. We will continue to contribute our strategic nuclear deterrent to NATO’s collective security.’

NATO continues to pursue its disastrous war in Afghanistan; similarly it will pursue its nuclear armed policies, if we, the people, do not mount powerful pressure to change the militaristic drive.  NATO is not acting in the interests of the mass of people. NATO itself has started a public debate on a new Strategic Concept, for which the Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen,  has called for the widest possible participation - as far as ‘Town Halls’. 

So let us all join in.  There will be an opportunity in Edinburgh 14/15 November  when the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meets there. It is our role in CND and all the peace and social justice groups to expose the dangerous nature of this huge military alliance.

Rae Street

September 2009

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