Reconstruction of NATO

November 18, 1964

Report Outline
Struggle Over Nuclear Force for Nato
Landmarks in the Development of Nato
Growth of Factionalism within Alliance

Struggle Over Nuclear Force for Nato

Origin of Plan for Multilateral Nuclear Force

Conversations to be held at the White House on December 7 and 8 by President Johnson and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson may powerfully affect the range and the forms of future cooperation in the North Atlantic community. The new Labor government in Britain is seeking radical revision of the plan for a multilateral nuclear force of surface vessels manned by mixed crews of officers and men from member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Although the United States, chief backer of the plan, had hoped that a treaty authorizing creation of the so-called M.L.F. would be signed before the end of 1964, it has been forced to accept postponement of that goal.

Not only Great Britain but also West Germany, principal European advocate of a NATO nuclear force, has now called for delay. Bonn's decision to do so, taken Nov. 11 at the behest of Chancellor Ludwig Erhard's Christian Democratic Party, followed conversations in Paris between former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle all along has been strongly opposed to the idea of a multilateral nuclear force.

Doubts and disagreement about M.L.F. have been supplemented by differences over economic questions on the eve of the “Kennedy round” of tariff negotiations. And the atmosphere in the West has been further clouded by uncertainties resulting from Khrushchev's fall from power in the Soviet Union and Communist China's recent explosion of a nuclear device. The change of Kremlin leadership and the accession of a second Communist country to the nuclear club might have been expected to unite the NATO powers. The fact that they remain disunited testifies to the gravity of the problems dividing members of the North Atlantic alliance.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jan. 2009  Future of NATO
Feb. 28, 2003  Future of NATO
May 16, 1997  Expanding NATO
Aug. 21, 1992  NATO's Changing Role
Mar. 22, 1974  Faltering NATO Alliance
Nov. 18, 1964  Reconstruction of NATO
Oct. 24, 1956  Future of NATO
Alliances and Security Agreements
Diplomacy and Diplomats
Regional Political Affairs: Europe