Nato 'must prepare to launch nuclear attack'
Nato must prepare to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks to ward off the use of weapons of mass destruction by its enemies, a group of former senior military officials has warned.
Calling for a major change to Nato's approach to defending its members and their interests, the authors of the report, which has been handed to Nato and Pentagon chiefs, said the first-strike use of nuclear weapons was a "indespensible instrument".
According to a report, the authors of the blueprint for reforming Nato include Lord Peter Inge, the former British chief of the defence staff and US General John Shalikashvili, the former Nato commander in Europe and chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff.
"The risk of further proliferation is imminent and, with it, the danger that nuclear war fighting, albeit limited in scope, might become possible," the report said.
"The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction."
The document reportedly includes Lord Inge's comments on the controversy surrounding nuclear weapons policy: "To tie our hands on first use or no first use removes a huge plank of deterrence."
The report called for a wholesale reform of Nato and a new pack between Nato, the US and the European union in order to tackle modern military and terrorist threats to the West.
It warned the spread of nuclear technology meant there was "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".
Terrorism, political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism were major threats to the West, and organised crime, climate change and migration on a mass scale posed dangers to the way of life of Nato members.
They also cited the weakening of global alliances, including the United Nations.
The authors have proposed major changes to the way Nato operates, including abandoning consensus decision making so fast action can be taken without the threat of vetoes and caveats imposed by some nations.
They also called for military action without ratification by the UN in cases where "immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings".
The report was compiled after authors were briefed by senior serving military officials who are unable to speak publicly about their concerns with Nato's military strategy.
The document may be discussed at a Nato summit in Bucharest in April.
The other three authors are Klaus Naumann, a German former military commander, Henk van den Breemen, a former Dutch military official, and Jacques Lanxade, the former French admiral and chief of defence.