NATO defense ministers agreed in principle during a March 10-11 meeting to set up a new arms control body, but discussions about the committee's task and its relationship to a broader review of NATO deterrence posture continue.
The creation of the new body, known as the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Control and Disarmament Committee, was in response to a directive from member states at last November's Lisbon summit, where they agreed to a new Strategic Concept to guide alliance actions in the coming years. At that meeting, the members directed the NATO Council, the alliance's principal political decision-making body, to establish a new arms control committee in the context of a larger review of NATO's deterrence and defense posture. (See ACT, December 2010.)
A senior U.S. official told Arms Control Today March 17 that he expects the new committee not only to provide arms control and disarmament input into NATO's deterrence review, but also to offer a forum for appropriate consultations among NATO members on nuclear and conventional arms control more generally. "We hope that this committee would remain completely independent of the deterrence review and will become a permanent body, though that is still opposed by one party," he said, clearly referring to France. Paris in the past has argued the disarmament body should cease to exist once the deterrence review is completed. (See ACT, March 2011.) Germany supports the U.S. positions, diplomatic sources said.
The committee could meet at the level of deputy heads of NATO missions in Brussels, but could be reinforced by officials from capitals when needed, the U.S. …