The Reaction in Western Europe, 1977–79
The threat that the SS-20 would pose to the security of Western Europe had been discussed by Defence Ministers as far back as January 1976 at a meeting of NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) in Hamburg.1 But by the time the SS-20 was deployed no response had yet been orchestrated. Moreover, the Americans had failed to consult with their allies over the agenda of SALT II, and when the NPG reconvened in Bari on 11–12 October 1977 the Americans brusquely rejected the West German proposal that the United States alter its negotiating position in SALT to accommodate the deployment of Cruise missiles in the European theatre.2 Thus although the Bari meeting resulted in the creation of a High Level Group of senior officials from member countries to examine options for forward planning on nuclear issues, it was not specifically set up to deal with the SS-20. Furthermore, it was a belated response to the need for a framework of consultation within the alliance, which in no way appeased the West Germans, who were incensed at American behaviour.3
KeywordsNuclear Weapon High Level Group Defence Minister Cruise Missile Neutron Bomb
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