Subfonds NPG - Nuclear Planning Group

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Nuclear Planning Group


  • 1966 - 1974 (Creation)

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Administrative history

The NPG chronological series contains the records of the Nuclear Planning Group. The Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) is NATO’s principal body for planning, discussing and deciding on matters relating to nuclear policy. The NPG was founded on 14 December 1966, when the Defence Planning Committee in Ministerial Session accepted the recommendation of the Special Committee of Defence Ministers, chaired by Robert McNamara of the United States, to establish a consultative process on nuclear doctrine within NATO. Ministers implemented these recommendations by creating the Nuclear Defence Affairs Committee(1), which included all NATO members, and the NPG, which was restricted to nations participating in NATO’s integrated military structure, and was mandated to carry out detailed work on nuclear issues. In order to facilitate the NPG’s work, only seven nations sat on the Group at any one time. The United States, United Kingdom, Italy and West Germany were permanent members, while appointments to the other three NPG seats lasted for one year, and rotated amongst the eligible nations. The NPG met for the first time at the level of defence ministers, in Washington, on 6-7 April 1967. From that point on, the NPG met twice per year in ministerial session, and more frequently at the level of permanent representatives. The method of working at the ministerial level was to give a minister responsibility for leading the discussions on each agenda item. To help carry out the work on nuclear issues, in 1968 the NPG (Staff Group) was established. Membership in the NPG (Staff Group) was restricted to nations participating in NATO’s integrated military structure. The NPG (Staff Group) prepared and supported meetings of the NPG at both ministerial and permanent representative levels, and oversaw nuclear issues on a daily basis. In 1977, the NPG (High Level Group) was established as the NPG’s senior body to provide advice to ministers on nuclear issues. Membership in the NPG (High Level Group) was also restricted to nations participating in NATO’s integrated military structure.

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Scope and content

The NPG series records contain information about all aspects of nuclear issues that were of concern to NATO. From the outset, meetings
of the NPG generally included discussions about issues related to strategic and tactical nuclear forces, anti-ballistic missiles, atomic demolition munitions and the deployment of nuclear weapons and forces in Europe, including arrangements with host countries. The list of subjects discussed by the committee expanded over the years to include the deployment of nuclear weapons, their safety, security and survivability, communications and information systems as well as nuclear arms control and proliferation.

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System of arrangement

The chronological document series stemming from the Nuclear Planning Group is arranged by type - generally Note(N), Record/Summary Record (R), Working Paper (WP) - and then by year and number.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

NATO publicly disclosed information is available for research and education purposes. Any commercial use requires the written permission of NATO. Please credit the NATO Archives should any documents be used for publication. Guidelines for the proper citation of NATO publicly disclosed information can be found on the NATO Archives website (

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Language and script notes

This chronological document series has generally been issued in each
of the two official languages of NATO, English and French. In some instances, the documents were not translated and are predominantly
in English.

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(1) See series NDAC.

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