Blog Single

20 Oct

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

  • NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which is also called the North Atlantic Alliance.
  • It is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949.
  • The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by a non-member external party. 
  • NATO’s headquarters are located at Boulevard Leopold III in the city of Brussels, Belgium, where the Supreme Allied Commander resides.

NATO formation

The organisation was formed as a means to ensure collective security in western Europe. Even though World War 2 had come to an end, the deteriorating relations between two former allies, the United States and the USSR would eventually lead to the Cold War. The USSR sought to expand its influence in Europe through the spread of communism, while the US saw the ideology of the USSR as a threat to its way of life. Hence it saw the need to form NATO.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949, by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.
  • A key provision of the treaty, the so-called Article 5, states that if one member of the alliance is attacked in Europe or North America, it is to be considered an attack on all members. That effectively put Western Europe under the “nuclear umbrella” of the US.
    • NATO has only once invoked Article 5, on September 12, 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the US.
  • As of 2019, there are 29 member states, with Montenegro becoming the latest member to join the alliance in 2017.
    • France withdrew from the integrated military command of NATO in 1966 but remained a member of the organization. However, it resumed its position in NATO’s military command in 2009.

Recent Issues

  • A big source of the internal strain is American President Donald Trump’s recurrent demand that countries devote an amount equal to at least two percent of GDP to defence spending In 2018.
    • However, only seven of NATO’s 29 member states hit the two-percent target.
  • Strained relationship over selling of defence equipments.
    • The US has halted delivery of equipment related to its F-35 fighter jets to Turkey over its plans to buy Russia’s S-400 missile defence system.
    • U.S. wants Turkey to buy the Patriot defence system of the USA, instead of Russia’s S-400s.
  • Recently, the Republic of Macedonia changed its name to the “Republic of North Macedonia” to enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) as its accession to both organizations was vetoed by Greece.
  • The move comes after India and the US signed the COMCASA (Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018.
  • The two countries are also in advance discussion to sign another foundational agreement of the BECA (Basic Exchange Cooperation Agreement).
  • It also comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.


  • The amendment is moved as part of the National Defense Authorization Act 2020 of the USA, giving a big boost to India-US defence trade.
  • This would remove current legislative barriers to export of major high-tech defence equipment to India which is normally shared with only a few countries.
  • Although, it is an important signal of US political support for enhancing defense ties but is unlikely to have tangible impact on trade flows in the near term.
  • The amendment needs to be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before it can be signed by the US President into law.

NATO – A Brief Background

  • The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. This treaty established a military alliance, later to become the Western European Union
  • North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, DC on 4 April 1949, was a result of the talks for the military alliance. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states, United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland
  • Three years later, on 18 February 1952, Greece and Turkey also joined
  • The incorporation of West Germany into the organisation on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Minister of Norway at the time
  • One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union and its satellite states as a formal response to this event, firmly establishing the two opposing sides of the Cold War

Pre and Post Cold War Impact

  • During most of the duration of the Cold War, NATO maintained a holding pattern with no actual military engagement as an organisation. On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was opened for signature
  • On 30 May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente
  • However, on 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of US Cruise and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. This policy was called the Dual Track policy
  • The end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, removed the de facto main adversary of NATO. This caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature and tasks
  • The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with the reunification of Germany on 3 October 1990, when former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance
  • On 24 March 1999, NATO saw its first broad-scale military engagement in the Kosovo War, where it waged an 11-week bombing campaign against what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The conflict ended on 11 June 1999, when Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milošević agreed to NATO’s demands by accepting UN resolution 1244
  • The expansion of the activities and geographical reach of NATO grew even further as an outcome of the September 11 attacks

NATO – Updates (2020-2021)

  1. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, stressed that 2020 would be the sixth consecutive year in which total defence spending by European allies and Canada would rise, this time by 4.3 per cent in real terms. 
  2. Defence ministers of ten Nato allies have launched a multinational initiative to explore a ground-based air defence (GBAD) modular solution. The project is part of the expanding multinational High Visibility Projects (HVPs) portfolio, which is supported by Nato to deliver defence capability for alliance security. It will be able to counter very short range, short-range and medium-range threats.
  3. Russian recently gave out a statement that they are open for constructive work on minimizing the negative consequences of the collapse of the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty on the basis of the principles of equal and indivisible security and the respect for the balance of the parties’ interests.
  4. NATO allies France and Turkey traded angry recriminations as international tensions mounted over the fiercest clashes between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces since the mid-1990s. Some of Turkey‘s NATO allies are increasingly alarmed by Ankara’s stance on Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region inside Turkey‘s close ally Azerbaijan that is run by ethnic Armenians but is not recognised by any country as an independent republic.
  5. Tensions between Russia and NATO reached new heights when satellite images discovered Russian forces massing near the Ukraine border. Although the Russian government has claimed that their forces were conducting a military exercise in the region, NATO allies have remained vary of the claim.

Related Posts

Leave A Comment