Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Nuclear Planning Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

October 26, 1983

The President met this morning with Secretary of Defense Weinberger in preparation for NATO's Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) ministerial meeting in Ottawa on October 27th and 28th. The Secretary of State and the national security adviser were also present. This NATO Nuclear Planning Group meeting takes on special importance because the ministers will consider a report by the NATO high-level group on the future size and composition of NATO's nuclear stockpile. The President asked for this meeting to underline his personal endorsement of the high-level group's recommendations, which the President believes are vitally important to NATO's future, and to convey his hope that the assembled NATO ministers will act favorably on them.

The NATO high-level group, chaired by Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, was formed in 1977 for the purpose of reviewing the total NATO intermediate-range and short-range nuclear force structure. The high-level group's report to defense ministers at their meeting in Canada will culminate several years work by experts from throughout the the alliance on the future size and composition of NATO's nuclear stockpile. The conclusion of this vital work will be a further step in the implementation of NATO's 1979 dual-track decision on intermediate-range nuclear force (INF) modernization and arms control. Besides addressing the modernization of NATO's longer range INF missile forces, the 1979 decision also provided for the initial net reduction of 1,000 existing NATO nuclear weapons, which has already been carried out, and committed the alliance to review further adjustments that could be made to NATO's medium and shorter range nuclear forces. The high-level group's report completes this review.

In today's meeting, the President praised the high-level group's work on this critical issue and expressed his sincere hope that NATO ministers will support the group's recommendations. Finally, the President underscored his personal opinion that, if adopted by NATO ministers, the recommendations will enhance the alliance's credibility and effectiveness in continuing to maintain peace -- as it has for nearly four decades.