Representatives of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members have begun discussing the modernisation of the alliance's nuclear weapons.
Representatives of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members have begun discussing the modernisation of the alliance's nuclear weapons. The talks were held in secret at a meeting of NATO's Nuclear Planning Group.
SYNOPSIS: The Netherlands Defence Minister Mr. Willem Scholten was among representatives from eleven countries who gathered in a guarded army barracks for the two-day meeting. The talks were reportedly aimed at paving the way for a decision by NATO defence ministers in mid-December on proposals to modernise their nuclear missiles.
NATO's Secretary-General Joseph Luns was among those to arrive amid tight security which included helicopters patrolling overhead. Observers expected the modernisation plans to include the stationing on European soil of the first land-based nuclear missiles capable of striking the Soviet Union. The proposal was reported to involve the production of United States Pershing-2 and ground-based cruise missiles and their deployment in five West European countries.
The NATO meeting was also expected to consider an arms control plan in response to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev's offer to withdraw troops and tanks from East Germany.
Britain would accommodate the largest number of cruise missiles in Western Europe, according to Reuters News Agency. Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and West Germany would also provide sites. The missiles, likened to modern versions of the World War Two 'flying bombs', are capable of penetrating the Soviet Union by flying at low level. But some NATO members are reported to prefer arms limitation to the introduction of new weapons into Europe.