Thirty years ago, on the fourth of April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington, linking the defence of Western Europe to that of the United States and Canada.
Thirty years ago, on the fourth of April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington, linking the defence of Western Europe to that of the United States and Canada. Under the treaty it was agreed that an attack on any of the member countries would constitute an attack against them all.
SYNOPSIS: The signing came at the time when the so-called 'cold war' had developed. There was concern at the increasing power of the Soviet Union.
Four months later, the Soviet Union confirmed it has successfully developed at tested an atomic bomb, ending the United States' virtual domination of nuclear weapons.
The 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia alerted NATO to the speed at which Warsaw Pact forces could operate...a matter that's still of concern.
Three years earlier President De Gaulle declared France's intention of withdrawing from NATO military involvement... though they are still members. Since there have been worries about Greece and Turkey, and more recently about possible participation in government of the Italian Communist Party.
Militarily, NATO maintains an round-the-clock alert at sea, in the air, and on land. The United States' President Carter re-emphasised last year -- in the face of growing build-up of Soviet military strengths -- that Western Europe is a front line of defence for the United States. As part of this he was involved in launching a long term defence programme designed to strengthen the alliance and adapt force to the military needs of the 1980's. It has come at a time when the warsaw Pact military potential, in terms of numbers and weaponry, is ahead of NATO in most areas. Concern over the Pact's almost three to one superiority in tanks led last year to NATO introducing aircraft specially designed to knock out tanks...and to increasing stocks of anti-tank weapons by a quarter.
Talks between NATO and the Warsaw Pact alliance on force reductions have been going on for five and a half years, with no results. The 200th session begins on Thursday (5 April) the day after NATO's anniversary.
In 1974, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the 15 members of the alliance signed a re-dedication document. The original treaty had been for 20 years.
Members of NATO say that their main aim is east-west detente. But they've said this will not be at the expense of security. Last June, President Carter warned that Warsaw Pact forces had expanded and modernised conventional forces, beyond what he termed any legitimate defence requirement. And four months ago, at the end of their winter meeting, NATO ministers said there would be no lowering of guard...and that progress towards easing of tension depends on the Pact's willingness to compromise.