Thirty years ago, on 12 December 1979, NATO defense and foreign ministers made a landmark decision designed to unify the alliance, but which also contributed to the collapse of détente and helped provide an agenda for the end of the Cold War. On the anniversary of the NATO "dual-track" decision that linked U.S. deployments of long-range theater nuclear forces (LRTNF) to proposals for negotiations with Moscow over those and Soviet forces, the National Security Archive publishes for the first time a selection of declassified U.S. documents that record some of the key developments in the U.S. and NATO decision-making processes.
NATO leaders saw the "dual-track" decision as a response to Soviet long-range forces targeting Europe and as a way ultimately to roll them back, yet the Soviet leadership saw the NATO plan as a threatening escalation of the nuclear arms race. The NATO decision to deploy 572 ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) and Pershing II missiles in Western Europe contributed to the deterioration of East-West relations and triggered the "Euromissiles crisis," involving anti-nuclear campaigns and mass demonstrations in Western Europe.
The Carter administration played a central role supporting the NATO decisions, but it did not quickly agree to support the GLCM and Pershing II deployments, ultimately concluding that political and diplomatic imperatives made them necessary. Thus, Washington helped shape a consensus in NATO for a policy that integrating deployments and arms control strategies. While many important U.S. and NATO documents on these developments remain secret, U.S. government declassification decisions make it possible to get a better sense of the "dual-track" process, including the very important alliance consultations.
In this anniversary year of the "dual-track" decisions, several international conferences have already taken place (and more are planned). The most recent event, "The Euromissiles Crisis and the End of the Cold War, 1977-1987," -- http://wwellicenter.net/dualtrackinrome/w.machiav -- co-sponsored by the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies -- www.machiavellicenter.net/ -- the National Security Archive, and the Cold War International History Project, among other organizations, is taking place this week, 10-12 December, in Rome, Italy, on the anniversary of the NATO decision. The conference has a wide-ranging agenda, with the participants looking closely at diplomatic issues, military policy developments, anti-nuclear movements, and the broader implications of the dual-track decisions for both the collapse of détente and the end of the Cold War.
For more information, visit the Archive Web site: www.nsarchive.org