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Montebello Decision

Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current position with regard to SACEUR's 1985 proposals to implement the Montebello decision.

As part of the continuing process of reviewing NATO's nuclear force requirements, NATO Defence Ministers at the 1983 nuclear planning group meeting in Montebello examined the question of the future size and composition of NATO's theatre nuclear stockpile and agreed both to a reduction of 1,400 warheads from NATO's land-based nuclear stockpile in Europe and on the need for improvements to ensure the continuing effectiveness, responsiveness and survivability of remaining systems. SACEUR was asked to come forward with proposals for implementing this decision and his recommendations were presented to the nuclear planning group Minister at their meeting in Luxembourg in March 1985.The reduction in warheads has been completed. Recommendations for improvements are being pursued by SACEUR with the nations concerned, and progress with implementation is being kept under review by the nuclear planning group. The details of the recommendations as they affect individual countries are classified, but in broad terms they include the deployment of a tactical air-to-surface missile, the deployment of a follow on to Lance, the introduction of improved nuclear artillery shells, and the continued modernisation of NATO's dual-capable aircraft. No decisions on the specific modernisation measures addressed by SACEUR to the United Kingdom have yet been taken.Other measures called for by SACEUR involve the correction of some maldeployments of nuclear forces and improvements in their effectiveness, survivability and command and control. In this context the United Kingdom is withdrawing completely from the 8 in nuclear artillery role in order to concentrate resources on the 155 mm dual-capable gun now in service, as explained by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 23 July 1987 at column

390.

NATO Heads of Government at the summit on 2–3 March reaffirmed the long-standing policy of the Alliance, that it should continue to maintain

"an appropriate mix of adequate and effective nuclear and conventional forces which will continue to be kept up to date where necessary".

The United Kingdom will play its full part in this process.