The Minister of Defence Takes Position on the Storage of Nuclear Weapons on the Italian Territory and the Obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty


On 17 February 2014 the Minister of Defence, Mr. Mario Mauro, reported in writing to the Chamber of Deputies on a request for information concerning the types of nuclear weapons stored in Italy, their location and the compatibility between such practice and the obligations deriving from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Italy is a party. Minister Mauro stated the following:

With reference to the question of the presence of nuclear weapons in Europe, it should be noted that the Alliance [NATO], while maintaining an attitude absolutely transparent about its strategy and the nature of its nuclear devices in Europe, cannot act, however, at the expense of the safety of such devices and of the confidentiality that must be necessarily preserved in relation to the sites, their location, and the quantity and type of weapons they contain.
Such confidentiality cannot be violated unilaterally by one State party, because nuclear deterrence is a collective asset and responsibility that jointly binds the allied countries.
The type and quality of information that can be publicly delivered on nuclear weapons is therefore a political collective and unanimous decision of the allies, from which single State parties cannot unilaterally withdraw without incurring into a violation of the alliance agreement, that they freely accepted, and of the obligation of confidentiality that the agreement enshrines.
With regard to the legal compatibility between the so-called NATO “nuclear sharing agreements” and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it should be noted that, when the Treaty was negotiated at the end of the 60s, the aforementioned “agreements” concerning the storage of non-conventional weapons in non-nuclear European countries already existed; their presence, however, was reported once again, for transparency purposes, to the rest of the signatory countries of the Treaty. In 1969 the Italian government joined the Treaty and, referring to such agreements, in point 6 of the national restrictions (collectively accepted by the rest of the signatories), pointed out that “(Italy) notes the full compatibility of the Treaty with the existing security agreements”.
In fact, even if placed in non-nuclear countries in Europe, the devices in question remain under the control of a nuclear power that shares them with the allies for the purpose of collective defense; by contrast their use requires the full consent of all the countries concerned.
Therefore, the existing agreements and, more generally, the contents of the NATO nuclear policy are consistent with the obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty as no transfer of control of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states takes place.

The Italian version of the statement can be found at:

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