This is a collection of primary source documents dating from 1979 to 1983 – during a period of confrontation and building tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. The documents in the collection come from Dutch, German, and Italian archives. They include correspondence and negotiations between the leaders of NATO member countries. The majority of the documents are from 1979, an eventful year which included the conclusion of SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), the Soviet Union's deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles targeting Western Europe, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The rest of the documents dating from 1980 to 1983 deal with security policy and the increased hostility between the Soviet Union and the West. See also the related collections in the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, protesters in Lyon, France)
November 16, 1983
Antonio Badini, Outline of General Considerations
A memo to Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi from his Diplomatic Counselor Antonio Badini. Badini warns against the latest Soviet proposals. He suggests that agreeing to them without making any concessions regarding the deployment of American missiles would be tantamount to the realization of a long term goal of the Soviet Union, i.e. the decoupling between the Western European and the American defense system. […] He writes that the Soviet proposals “can be taken as a possible basis for an agreement is surprising. We can only hope that this fact does not imply that, from a political and psychological standpoint, the process of Finlandization of Europe is far more advanced than we believed thus far.”
December 08, 1983
Note by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Ministerial session of the Atlantic Council - State of the Alliance'
These notes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs analyze the current state of the alliance. The document offers an overview of recent positive and negative developments , focusing on the issue of restarting the INF negotiations.
March 01, 1984
Telegram by the Ambassador to the United States Petrignani to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Prospects of resuming the FNI negotiations'
Ambassador Petrignani reports his conversation with Vice Secretary of State Burt following Kissinger's interview in Time where he talks about NATO's crisis and need for burden sharing reform. Burt distances the current administration from Kissinger's views, stating instead that euro-american relations are "in good health", and there is no need for drastic measures.
December 13, 1984
Memorandum by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Ministerial session of the Atlantic Council (Bruxelles, 13th-14th December, 1984). Security problems'
Overview of the key security issues facing the Alliance in preparation for the December 1984 meeting in Brussels. The document discusses the state of Alliance, conventional and nuclear weapons, and the installment of INF in Europe, focusing on the potential for continuing East-West dialogue around disarmament.
February 17, 1986
Washington, DC to Department of External Affairs (Canada), 'Alliance Problems Over INF'
In a flurry of cables from February 1986, Canadian assessments focused on a chronic issue within NATO: in consultation within the alliance. The Special Consultative Group was used as a forum to “air views of allies,” hold briefings on the current state of negotiations, and to share a new negotiating position right before it was tabled. Canadian officials also warned of disagreement to come between the Europeans and the Americans over the “zero option,” the longstanding proposal to reduce both US and Soviet INF to zero.
February 19, 1986
Brussels–NATO (BNATO) to Department of External Affairs (Canada), 'Alliance Problems Over INF'
In a flurry of cables from February 1986, Canadian assessments focused on a chronic issue within NATO: consultation within the alliance. As this dispatch from Brussels concluded, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, “NATO nuclear collective consultation is the worst form, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
February 27, 1986
Brussels to Department of External Affairs (Canada), 'Zero Option and the Europeans'
Canadian officials warned of disagreement to come between the Europeans and the Americans over the “zero option,” the longstanding proposal to reduce both US and Soviet INF to zero. This dispatch from Brussels reported “substantial unhappiness” amongst the Europeans that the United States and the Soviet Union would discuss disarmament “even if neither of them believed in it.” Nuclear deterrence had prevented war in Europe for the preceding four decades, and US-Soviet discussions of disarmament only made it even more difficult to convince public opinion of deterrence’s continued importance