Throughout the spring of 1989 - as NATO prepared to celebrate its fortieth anniversary - the Alliance was considered to be in one of the most serious crises since its founding. The issue concerned primarily the role of short-range nuclear weapons in the defence of Western Europe, but, overtly or covertly, it raised questions about the role of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Alliance. Joined by Denmark, Greece and Belgium, Germany called for rapid (baldige) negotiations on short-range nuclear forces (up to 500 km), while the United States and Britain pointed out the need to modernize them and most of the other members of the Alliance looked on uneasily. Meanwhile, the issue of conventional arms control, previously presented as the centrepiece of Western arms control policy in Europe after the INF treaty of December 1987, seemed to have moved to the edges of Alliance interest.
The purpose of this chapter is to trace the development of NATO’s position on conventional arms control in Europe, to show the relationship to short-range nuclear forces and to analyse how this relationship was finally described in the Alliance’s ‘Comprehensive Concept of Arms Control and Disarmament’ passed at the NATO summit in May 1989, thus resolving the crisis that had plagued the Alliance for many months.
At the NATO ministers’ meeting in Halifax from 29 to 30 May 1986, the foreign ministers agreed on the ‘Halifax Statement on
*The views expressed in this chapter represent the opinion of the author alone and do not represent the official policies or views of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.