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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 09, 1963

MEMORANDUM, DUTCH JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, 'REGARDING THE MILITARY DESIRABILITY OF THE CREATION OF A NATO MULTILATERAL NUCLEAR FORCE"

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation, Carnegie Corporation

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    Memorandum presented at 11 October 1963 meeting of the Dutch Council of Ministers. The memorandum is highly critical of the military merits of the proposed NATO Multilateral Nuclear Force, and argues that even if the MLF is created, the Netherlands should decline to participate.
    "Memorandum, Dutch Joint Chiefs of Staff, 'Regarding the Military Desirability of the Creation of a NATO Multilateral Nuclear Force"," October 09, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, National Archives, The Hague, Council of Ministers, access number 2.02.05.02, inventory number 753 and 723. Obtained and translated by Bastiaan Bouwman. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117767
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SECRET

Ministry of Defense

No. 281.300 A Geh.

SUBJECT:

NATO multilateral nuclear force

Copy.

to be discussed in the Council of Ministers.

The Hague, 9 October 1963.

To      the Prime Minister.

Herewith I offer you a brief dissertation from the committee of the joint chiefs of staff regarding the military desirability of the creation of a NATO Multilateral Nuclear Force. I would like to refer to the content of this dissertation.

On the whole, I support the tenor of this dissertation.

My personal viewpoint is, that:

1. there is no need for a multilateral nuclear force from a military point of view, because the Western allies, particularly the United States of America, already possess an “overkill” capacity in this area;

2. there are, furthermore, serious military-technical objections against a multilateral nuclear force of surface ships from my side, albeit that these objections could perhaps be overcome in further deliberations;

3. it is an omission for the expert judgment of the involved military commanders never to have been requested with regard to a multilateral nuclear force;

4. as long as there remain important shortages of conventional means, the available financial means should be spent on these, in order to ensure that our military personnel can engage in combat with adequate means.

Summarizing, there is – militarily seen – no need for a multilateral nuclear force and it presently has an exclusively political aspect.

I would lastly point out that such a force is hardly credible to an enemy, and that I seriously doubt whether the creation of such a force would indeed be sufficient to prevent West Germany’s eventual acquisition of its own nuclear weapons.

THE MINISTER OF DEFENSE,

(signed) P.J.S. de Jong

_________

MINISTRY OF DEFENSE

no. 281.300 A Geh.

M E M O R A N D U M

From the Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the minister of defense regarding the military desirability of the creation of a NATO Multilateral Nuclear Force.

1. The starting point is the American policy regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons, as it has been repeatedly formulated during the past years by President Kennedy and his Ministers. Regardless of the credibility that one ascribes to this policy, the opinion from this quarter is that the defense of Europe and of North America should be seen as one and indivisible. It should therefore be trusted that an attack on Europe will be equally considered by the government of the United States as an attack on its own territory. This, after all, is the foundation of NATO. Thus, the American nuclear weapons, as well as all other American forces, whether put under NATO command or not, are also available for the defense of the entire territory of NATO. Likewise it must be trusted that the United States will honor its commitment to give equal priority to counteracting the most important elements of the Soviet nuclear strikeforce which threaten Europe as to those aimed at the United States.

2. Although Saceur [Supreme Allied Commander Europe] is of the opinion that the nuclear assets made available to him require an increase, from our part it is assumed, based on the statement by Secretary [of Defense] McNamara that the joint nuclear assets which are at the disposal of NATO and of the members of NATO are numerically more than sufficient to meet the need for these assets, that a shift of assets toward Saceur would suffice. On that account there is no need for an increase of the total amount of these assets.

3. Therefore, the Netherlands has always been a proponent of the creation of the inter-allied nuclear force of NATO, since this would not entail increasing the amount of available assets, but incorporate more of these assets directly into NATO. Matters have resulted in increased influence on the part of the European NATO commander in the use of nuclear assets for the defense of Europe. Furthermore, the European partners are given insight into nuclear planning by including them in the relevant staff bodies.

4. Although the Committee, in view of the statements in the above point 3, supports the idea of ensuring that the European NATO commander has sufficient appropriate nuclear assets at his disposal, it remains of the opinion, based on what was stated in points 1 and 2, that no extra nuclear assets need to be added to the total available amount.

5. If, for other than military reasons, it should nevertheless be decided to create a Multilateral Nuclear Force, the Netherlands ought not to participate in this, all the more because the available financial means are needed in their entirety in order to bring our contribution to NATO to the required level.

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