Continuing a long-standing stalemate, NATO foreign ministers at a Dec. 4-5 meeting in Brussels were not able to agree on a mandate for a new arms control committee, according to diplomats who were briefed on the meeting.
The main point of contention is the proposed duration of the new committee, which would include all 28 NATO countries, the diplomats said.
Participants in a NATO summit in Chicago last May had expressed a common interest in forming the panel, but could not agree on its overall mission. French officials insist that committee members work toward the achievement of a specific goal, namely, engaging Russia in talks on tactical nuclear weapons. In contrast, German officials have been pushing for a permanent committee that would allow its members to discuss a broader set of issues. (See ACT, June 2012.)
In the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review report issued on May 20, the allies had agreed to take on the task of “developing detailed proposals on and increasing mutual understanding of NATO’s and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe.” At the Chicago summit, the allies had assigned the new committee the task of developing a package of confidence-building proposals on tactical nuclear weapons, which would then be discussed with Russia.