Facebook Twitter

N-ARMS A LAST RESORT, NATO SAYS

SHARE N-ARMS A LAST RESORT, NATO SAYS

NATO leaders, seeking to reassure Moscow that the West is not a threat, agreed Friday to use nuclear weapons only as a last resort and invited Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to address a "transformed" Atlantic alliance.

In a joint statement, the 16 NATO heads of state ended a two-day summit intended to adapt the 41-year-old North Atlantic Treaty Organization to changing European realities.President Bush hailed the outcome as "a historic turning point." He said Gorbachev could use the summit declaration to convince others that the Soviets need not fear the West at a time when they find themselves weakened economically and in military retreat.

In addition to radically revamping NATO military doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons, the leaders offered to negotiate troop levels of a united Germany - a critical concession to win Soviet acceptance of a unified Germany in NATO.

The statement also endorsed a greatly enhanced role for the 35-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, or CSCE, and agreed to remove 1,400 nuclear artillery shells from Europe providing the Soviets take "reciprocal action" once talks begin on short-range nuclear forces.

"We have no aggressive intentions and we commit ourselves to the peaceful resolution of all disputes," said the summit's final declaration, titled "The London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance."

NATO joined the Warsaw Pact nations in stating "solemnly . . . that we are no longer adversaries."

Gorbachev and other Eastern European leaders were asked to address NATO in Brussels and the alliance also invited those countries "to come to NATO, not just to visit, but to establish regular diplomatic liaison."

"They won't be members of NATO and they will not participate in the counsels of NATO," national security adviser Brent Scowcroft told Cable News Network. "But they will be there to observe, to discuss, to exchange views."

In Moscow, Gorbachev said he has not yet received a formal invitation to attend a future NATO meeting, but said, "I would always be ready to go."

NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner will deliver the summit's message to Gorbachev in Moscow on July 14.

"We welcome the beginning of the coming together of the two blocs," Gorbachev told reporters during a break in the 28th Communist Party congress. "It's a difficult process. Everyone knows how difficult it is to move away from stereotypes."

Bush said the London Declaration sends a clear message to the Soviets: "Here's an alliance that you should view, Mr. Gorbachev, as defensive and not threatening and please convince your military and others in the Soviet Union of this fact."

Nuclear arms will be "truly weapons of last resort," Bush said, urging Gorbachev to step up his reform campaign.

"I'd get on the offense and then let the rest of us help him with some of his hard-liners," Bush said. "I would think that he'd view this as a very positive step forward and one that vindicates some of the moves that he's made over the past year or two."

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher termed the document "a landmark in the history of NATO and of Europe," which should persuade Warsaw Pact countries "they have nothing to fear from NATO or a unified Germany within NATO."

"NATO now has a new international vocation, a political vocation," said Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

A crucial part of the communique concerns German troop levels, which would number about 700,000 after unification.

Once an initial CFE treaty is signed, the NATO communique says, follow-up talks should begin to add "additional measures, including measures to limit manpower in Europe. With this goal in mind, a commitment will be given at the time of signature of the CFE treaty concerning the manpower levels of a unified Germany."

West Germany had previously resisted any negotiations that single out _ or "singularize" _ its forces in the context of the conventional forces in Europe talks, which currently involve only U.S. and Soviet troop levels.

Woerner insisted that "Germany is not singularized" in the declaration, because "such a commitment will be given within the framework of a general limitation of man-power."

Bush agreed, saying the communique simply "says that this question (on German troop levels) at an appropriate time will be addressed."

The new policy of "last resort" use of nuclear weapons moves away from NATO's doctrine of "flexible response," which implies the early use of nuclear arms to counter an overwhelming conventional attack.

France and Britain, which have their own nuclear weapons, were concerned the "last resort" language would go too far, so the final document also says nuclear weapons "will continue to fulfill an essential role in the overall strategy of the alliance to prevent war."

"Dissuasion prevents war," said French President Francois Mitterrand. "It's not to win a war."

NATO also altered its obsolete doctrine of "forward defense," which called for repulsing a Warsaw Pact attack at the Western alliance's eastern borders.

Instead, NATO will have a "reduced forward presence" reflecting a vanished risk of surprise attack, with "highly mobile and versatile" troops comprised increasingly of multinational units.

Polls show the German people would more readily accept continued American troop presence if part of multinational forces.