PENN Research Report 2000.1

Questions of Command and Control:
NATO Nuclear Sharing and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Annex 1: Questions on the Draft Non-Proliferation Treaty Asked by US Allies Together with Answers Given by the United States (1967)

1.      Q. What may and what may not be transferred under the draft treaty? 

A.     The treaty deals only with what is prohibited, not with what is permitted. It prohibits transfer to any recipient whatsoever of “nuclear weapons” or control over them, meaning bombs and warheads. It also prohibits the transfer of other nuclear explosive devices because a nuclear explosive device intended for peaceful purposes can be used as a weapon or can be easily adapted for such use. It does not deal with, and therefore does not prohibit, transfer of nuclear delivery vehicles or delivery systems, or control over them to any recipient, so long as such transfer does not involve bombs or warheads.

2.      Q. Does the draft treaty prohibit consultations and planning on nuclear defense among NATO members? 

A. It does not deal with allied consultations and planning on nuclear defense so long as no transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them results. 

3.      Q. Does the draft treaty prohibit arrangements for the deployment of nuclear weapons owned and controlled by the United States within the territory of non-nuclear NATO members? 

A.     It does not deal with arrangements for deployment of nuclear weapons within allied territory as these do not involve any transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them unless and until a decision were made to go to war, at which time the treaty would no longer be controlling. 

4.      Q. Would the draft prohibit the unification of Europe if a nuclear weapon state was one of the constituent states? 

A.     It does not deal with the problem of European unity, and would not bar succession by a new federated European state to the nuclear status of one of its former components. A new federated European state would have to control all of its external security functions including defense and all foreign policy matters relating to external security, but would not have to be so centralized as to assume all governmental functions. While not dealing with succession by such a federated state, the treaty would bar transfer of nuclear weapons (including ownership) or control over them to any recipient, including a multilateral entity. 


“Questions on the Draft Non-Proliferation Treaty Asked by U.S. Allies Together with Answers Given by the United States”, cited in: NPT Hearings, US Senate, 90-2, pp. 262-263.  

Annex 2: Programs of Cooperation  

Part of the arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons that the US maintains in Europe has, since the 1950s, been retained for use by NATO member states. The armed forces of these states are trained for nuclear weapon missions. Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey participate in NATO nuclear weapons sharing, the extent of which is defined in bilateral treaties with the US. 

Stationing of nuclear components of nuclear weapons, the warheads, as well as their transfer to NATO allies at times of use, is governed under bilateral “Agreements for Cooperation for Mutual Defense Purposes”a between the US and the state concerned. 

The agreement with the Netherlands, for example, states that: 

“Each party will communicate to or exchange with the other party such classified information as is jointly determined to be necessary to: 

A)    the development of defense plans; 

B)     the training of personnel in the employment of and defense against atomic weapons and other military applications of atomic energy: 

C)    the evaluation of the capabilities of potential enemies in the employment of atomic weapons and other military applications of atomic energy; and 

D)    the development of delivery systems compatible with the atomic weapons which they carry.”b 

The agreement with the Netherlands is typical, containing the same clauses as other NATO nuclear cooperation agreements. 

The coordination of NATO policy is achieved through the Nuclear Planning Group, established in 1967, which meanwhile gives all states to NATO that choose to participate a say in planning the nuclear strategy of the alliance. 


a At least 11 such “Agreements” were concluded with NATO (Effective date: 12 March 1965), Australia (14 August 1957), Belgium (5 September 1962), Canada (27 July 1959), France (9 October 1961), Federal Republic of Germany (27 July 1959), Greece (11 August 1959), Italy (24 May 1961), Netherlands (27 July 1959), Turkey (27 July 1959), United Kingdom (4 August 1958). 

b Article II of Netherlands, Atomic Energy:  Cooperation for Mutual Defence Purposes, Signed at the Hague, 6 May 1959, entered into force 27 July 1959.  


Martin Butcher et. al., NATO Nuclear Sharing and the NPT – Questions to be Answered, PENN Research Note 97.3, June 1997, p. 14.

Annex 3: Nuclear Weapons in NATO Europe  

During the early 1950’s, the United States first introduced nuclear weapons into Europe for its own forces. Beginning in the late 1950s, however, additional US weapons were deployed to equip allied forces of some NATO countries. At the height of the Cold War, the total of US nuclear weapons stored in Europe exceeded 7,000 warheads. In recent years, the number of US tactical nuclear weapons has been massively reduced. The Cold has come to an end. Currently, only air-launched B61 bombs remain. It is likely that fewer than 180 of these weapons are now deployed in Europe. They are stored in the United Kingdom and on the territory of the six NNWS members of NATO which are parties to bilateral Programs of Cooperation with the US: Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. During the 1960’s and 1970’s nuclear weapons were also allocated to Canadian forces based in Germany. Until the 1990’s some US nuclear weapons were also allocated to UK Army units stationed in Germany. 

Under NATO nuclear sharing agreements, some of these weapons are deployed for use on aircraft of non-nuclear NATO countries in wartime. The six NNWS members of NATO listed above currently maintain one Air Force unit each, equipped with dual capable aircraft and pilots trained and ready to conduct NATO nuclear missions. 

The following non-nuclear countries’ units are all earmarked for nuclear missions: German Tornado fighter-bombers at Buechel Air Base, Dutch F-16 aircraft at Volkel Air Base, Belgian F-16 Falcons at Kleine Brogel, Greek F-16s at Araxos, Turkish F-16s  and Italian Tornados at Ghedi Torre.

In addition to these air force units, Germany and Turkey also operate additional nuclear capable units. These units are on air bases operating on nuclear caretaker status, i.e., on a reduced readiness in peacetime. These arrangements, in effect, turn NNWS into nuclear weapons states in time of war via the nuclear sharing arrangements.

NATO Nuclear Weapons Storage Sites (1998)

NATO Wings Maintaining Nuclear Weapons

Annex 4: Example of a Specific Basing Agreement for US Nuclear Forces in Europe

The agreement below covered the equipment of CF-104 Starfighters of the Royal Canadian Air Force in Europe with US nuclear weapons. It is typical of the detailed agreements covering such matters that the US has concluded on a bilateral basis with selected NATO allies.



The purpose of this Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)/ United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE) Arrangement, hereinafter referred to as “this agreement”, is to establish and describe the procedures governing the receipt, storage, maintenance, transport, loading, delivery, salvage, custody, security and control of nuclear weapons for RCAF CF-104 strike squadrons assigned to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), in order to provide an operational capability while ensuring compliance with applicable United States laws and regulations, (such as the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended), the Allied Commander Europe Plan for the NATO Special Ammunition Storage Program dated 30 Mar 61, and applicable Canadian laws and regulations as well as the provisions of applicable United States and Canadian agreement with the Host Nation.


This agreement implements and is subject to the provisions of the Canada/United States agreement effected by the exchange of Notes 125 (Canada) and 58 (United States) dated 16 Aug 63, and support the North Atlantic Council Declaration and Communiqué (Document PC/10, NATO Ministerial Meeting of 16-19 December 1957).


This agreement prescribes the procedures necessary for both the USAFE and RCAF to exercise their respective and joint responsibilities under the aforementioned Government-to-Government agreement. The RCAF and USAFE each assume responsibility for insuring compliance with the terms of this agreement by their own personnel and any non­-RCAF/USAFE personnel sponsored by them, respectively. 



In the implementation of this agreement, the USAFE will station custodial detachments comprising a mutually agreed number of military personnel and personnel serving with, employed by, or accompanying the forces (dependents), equipment and other material on agreed Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) bases or elsewhere in Allied Command Europe (ACE) area made available by the RCAF, and will use such agreed bases and facilities for agreed military purposes. These USAFE forces will hereinafter be referred to as the Custodial Detachments. 


The RCAF will arrange for customs formalities to be carried out on the Canadian bases for US personnel and materiel in accordance with applicable intergovernmental agreements. 


a. Nuclear weapon support will be provided to RCAF nuclear delivery units in support of NATO defence plans. The time of deployment of custodial detachments to custodial storage sites will depend upon the attainment of operational readiness by RCAF delivery units and the availability of adequate storage and administrative facilities and other support as mutually agree herein.

b. The US forces will retain custody of all US nuclear weapons and will release US nuclear weapons to the RCAF only in accordance with NATO defence plans, SACEUR directives, and US national control procedures. Custodial and operational procedures for U.S. owned training weapons will be as prescribed by USAF. 


The presence of the USAF at the “agreed bases will not alter the command responsibility and authority of the RCAF Base Commander; but with respect to the custodial detachment, all functions of command will be the sole responsibility of the Custodial Detachment Commander. The Custodial Detachment Commander will ensure compliance with all applicable RCAF directives provided such directives are not in conflict with or prevent the exercise of the Custodial Detachment Commander’s responsibilities. 


a. The RCAF will provide at no cost to the United States or personal cost to the individual US personnel, all land, facilities, services, supplies, and other logistic and administrative support required by this agreement unless otherwise specifically stated therein. The cost of salaries and allowances of US military personnel and such equipment and training as the United States has agreed to furnish will be borne by the United States Government.

b. Common items of administrative and logistical support, such as billeting, messing, transportation, mail service, etc., will be provided by the RCAF to United States personnel and their dependents to the same standard and on the same basis as that provided for equivalent Canadian personnel. USAF peculiar support requirements, such as clothing sales, court-martial jurisdiction, administrative proceedings, etc., will be provided from USAF sources. The responsible USAF Commander will conclude necessary arrangements and required agreements with the RCAF and appropriate USAF agencies. 



a. All point-to-point communications will be through NATO/national channels, except that the USAF will, at its own expense, install, equip, maintain and operate a communications facility for separate US National channels.

b. Nuclear weapons will not be made available on the storage site until communications consistent with SHAPE criteria are available, and above cited US communications are operational.

c. All communications equipment and services (telephone, teletypewriters, cable, longlines and like facilities) will be arranged for by the RCAF, except as otherwise provided herein.

d. US personnel will be assigned as part of the custodial detachments for the equipment, operation, and maintenance of US communication facilities for use of the custodial detachment. Cost of this US provided equipment and its installation and maintenance will be borne by the US. 


a. The USAFE will provide, operate, and maintain US communications facilities, together with the US national cryptographic equipment and documents required for the cryptographic section of these facilities for use of the custodial detachment.

b. The RCAF will provide, operate, and maintain:

(1) Speech communications between the storage site, the alert area, and the custodial detachment administrative area on the associated RCAF base, including all required terminal equipment.

(2) Teletypewriter communications through prescribed NATO/National channels for access into higher echelon NATO channels and into a US military communications station at a designated transfer point. These facilities will be made available for utilization by the Custodial Detachment Commander as required.

(3) Mobile communications equipment as required in paragraphs 7 and 14 of Annex A.

(4) Long distance official telephone service for the custodial detachment through NATO/National channels. Where NATO/National facilities will not provide required service, such official calls, if deemed urgent by the Custodial Detachment Commander, may be placed for the USAF element through existing civil facilities, and charges so incurred will be paid by the RCAF. The USAF signatory to this agreement gives assurances that such calls placed through civil facilities will be restricted to occasions of real urgency and will investigate fully and evidence indicating that such restriction is not being observed.

c. The RCAF will ensure that all communications facilities are available to coincide with the installation and operational dates of the US element at the selected RCAF base.

d. The RCAF will provide and maintain an operating area for the USAF cryptographic facility physically secured in accordance with existing NATO standards. This area must be collocated with the administrative area of the custodial detachment. 



a. The RCAF will be responsible for obtaining and making available without cost to the US all land areas required by the USAF, and will assure that provision is made for the construction of required structures and facilities in accordance with NATO criteria. To the extent that North Atlantic Council approves the establishment of nuclear stockpile sites under NATO Common Infrastructure, the apportionment of costs will be subject to NATO Infrastructure procedures.

b. Buildings and facilities not scheduled by NATO but required by the USAF to fulfil the terms of this agreement will be provided by the RCAF. These will be provided in accordance with standards agreed by the Custodial Detachment Commander and the RCAF Base Commander and use will be made of existing RCAF buildings to the maximum extent possible. 


a. Technical tools and equipment required by the USAF custodial detachment to perform its mission will be provided by the USAF.

b. For items of equipment other than those covered by “a” above, the USAF will provide a list of applicable items to be supplied by the RCAF. These will include all furnishings and equipment required in the facilities provided. This list will be subject to agreement between the RCAF and USAFE. The items supplied will remain RCAF property and be subject to RCAF materiel accounting procedures.

c. Replacement items of equipment, when required, will be provided through the same procedures used in obtaining original items as outlined in paragraph “a” and “b” above.

d. Support services required by the custodial detachment, such as laundering and dry cleaning of organizational property, maintenance, fuels, lubricants, and repair of vehicles and equipment, will be provided by the RCAF. 


a. The RCAF will provide:

(1) the following vehicles in operational condition for continuous use outside the ammunition storage area, on and off base, in support of the custodial detachment. The custodial detachment will provide drivers for these vehicles.

1 ea auto, motor sedan, 4-door

2 ea 1/2-ton pick-up truck,

1 ea approximately 15 passenger bus

1 ea EOD vehicle, 4-wheel drive

(2) The following vehicles in operational condition for continuous use within the ammunition storage area. The custodial detachment will provide drivers for these vehicles.

2 ea 1/2 ton pick-up truck

1 ea forklift, 6000 lb minimum capacity

2 ea trailer stake body, 4’ x 8’ bed

(3) Permission and licensing of custodial detachment personnel in accordance with RCAF regulations to drive RCAF vehicles.

(4) When available other such vehicle support as required.

(5) On request of the USAFE but at no cost to the USAF, freight shipment within ACE area of military equipment associated with USAF nuclear support of RCAF Strike Units. This will include all loading, unloading, packing, unpacking, and temporary storage of such freight shipment.

(6) Payment of transportation costs for official travel of custodial detachment personnel on temporary duty related to USAF nuclear support of RCAF Strike Units.

(7) Daily transportation for dependent children to locally operated US or Canadian dependent schools on the same basis as that provided for Canadian dependent children.

b. The USAF will provide:

(1) Shipments of personal effects of USAF personnel and dependents arriving at or departing from agreed bases.

(2) Transportation for USAF personnel arriving at or departing from the agreed bases on permanent change of station. 


a. Personnel Supplies: Items of personal supplies and equipment not otherwise provided for under Para 2, above, including weapons, ammunition, and clothing, for USAF personnel, shall be the responsibility of the USAF.

b. Housing:

(1) Bachelor Officers, NCO’s and Airmen or those not accompanied by dependents will be provided furnished quarters without cost to the individual or to the U.S. Government.

(a) Officers will be provided billets in the RCAF BOQ on the same basis as that provided equivalent Canadian personnel. Service charges such as for laundry may be assessed at the same rates as for Canadian personnel.

(b) NCO’s and Airmen will be billeted in the assigned USAF barracks.

(c) U.S. and Canadian authorities recognize that the above facilities do not meet NATO criteria for dormitory and administrative facilities. Should these facilities not prove sufficient due to an increase in the size of the custodial detachment, a requirement for use of these facilities by Canadian Forces, or other pertinent reason, the RCAF will apply for NATO common infrastructure funding for Type “C” dormitory and administrative facilities authorized.

(2) The RCAF will provide furnished quarters to US personnel accompanied by dependents to the same standard and on the same basis as that provided for equivalent Canadian personnel. The total cost of rental charges to USAF personnel for RCAF controlled housing will not exceed the current USAF housing allowance.

c. Recreation Facilities: The RCAF will:

(1) Permit USAF personnel to use all existing athletic and recreational and day room facilities.

(2) Make available to USAF personnel the privilege of membership in all RCAF clubs and messes for officers, NCO’s, and others, according to rank. USAF membership in messes, clubs and or institutes will be in accordance with RCAF regulations governing such membership, including mess and club dues.

d. Schools: Dependent children of US personnel will be permitted to attend RCAF dependent schools on the same basis as dependent children of RCAF personnel. Where an RCAF dependent school does not exist, adequate school facilities, including maintenance and custodial services, utilities and other operating costs, will be provided by the RCAE Administration of the dependent school or schools so provided will be the responsibility of the US.

e. Medical Support: The RCAF will provide:

Medical support to USAF personnel and their dependents in accordance with existing arrangements.

f. Food Service: The RCAF will provide messing on a repayment basis to US personnel on ration strength (not separate rations) to the same standard and on the same basis as that provided to comparable Canadian personnel. US personnel not on ration strength (on separate rations) will pay scheduled meal prices. 


a. The RCAF will provide all necessary maintenance of land areas, roads, utilities, structures, and facilities occupied by the USAF, and will furnish and operate all civil engineering services required by the USAF, including but not limited to utilities (such as electricity, heat, water, gas, and sewage disposal), janitorial service, trash disposal, and snow and ice removal.

b. The RCAF will make minor modifications and alterations to structures and facilities to meet USAF requirements as mutually agreed between the Custodial Detachment Commander and the RCAF Base Commander. Major modifications, alterations, or additions will be as mutually agreed between the USAFE and the RCAF. Restoration, rehabilitation, and repair of structures and facilities as required upon termination of occupancy by the USAF, will be a RCAF responsibility, except that the USAF will reimburse the RCAF for willful or negligent damage over and above fair wear and tear caused to such structures and facilities by US personnel. 


a. The RCAF will furnish fire protection, including fire fighting personnel and equipment, for USAF material and personnel. Except as indicated below, fire prevention measures and inspections will be the responsibility of the RCAF.

b. The RCAF will provide crash and rescue equipment and personnel trained for fire protection within the USAF restricted areas and in the proximity of nuclear weapons particularly those weapons under conditions of alert or transport. The USAF will be responsible for fire prevention methods and inspections in the areas described above and will provide to the RCAF personnel, in accordance with US disclosure procedures, special information and instructions necessary for performance of their duties. The RCAF will implement USAF provided procedures for preventing and combating fires that might threaten nuclear weapons. 



Publicity relating to joint Canadian-US defence plans and operations will be governed by the provisions of the US-Canadian Notes of 19 and 24 February 1951, except that access by members of press or other news media to areas containing nuclear weapons will be jointly approved by the appropriate RCAF and USAF commanders. 


a. The RCAF Base Commander, prior to releasing any information concerning the USAF or its personnel at the agreed bases, will obtain clearance from the Custodial Detachment Commander. If the information, is of possible general interest, (i.e., other than “spot news” as defined in the aforementioned notes of 19 and 24 February 1951) clearance will be obtained through the ACIC I Air Division, RCAF, who will coordinate such request for clearance with the Commander-in-Chief, United States Air Force in Europe, with Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and with the appropriate Canadian government agencies as applicable.

b. The Custodial Detachment Commander, prior to releasing any information concerning the RCAF or its personnel at the agreed bases, will obtain clearance from the RCAF Base Commander. If the information is of possible general interest, clearance will be obtained from Headquarters USAFE, which will coordinate such request for clearance with the AOC I Air Division, RCAE and with SACEUR. 



a. The USAF will provide all necessary information pertaining to safety rules and procedures governing nuclear weapon operations in accordance with US National disclosure policy and established transmission or retransmission channels. The RCAF Base Commander will furnish the Custodial Detachment Commander any pertinent Canadian safety regulations. When such regulations are made available they will be forwarded to appropriate US agencies for evaluation.

b. The USAF and the RCAF will be responsible for compliance with United States Nuclear Weapon System Safety Rules and procedures for nuclear weapon operations. The USAF and the RCAF also agree to comply with any non-inconsistent Canadian safety regulations and with any provisions of Annex B, hereto, entitled “Alert Procedures for RCAF Nuclear Strike Forces”, for each weapon system-bomb combination.

c. The RCAF will certify to the Custodial Detachment Commander that the armament system of each delivery vehicle meets the standards prescribed and approved by the USAF. Such certification will be made by the RCAF Base Commander or his designated representative prior to placing the delivery vehicle on Quick Reaction Alert and at any time that the armament system is modified or affected by other changes in the delivery vehicle configuration subsequent to original certification. No modification will be made to the weapon control, monitor suspension or release system without USAF approval. The RCAF will report any failure of weapon control, monitor, suspension or release system to appropriate USAF agencies.

d. The RCAF and the USAFE will establish a nuclear safety inspection system. (see Annex C) USAF assisted by the RCAF will conduct inspections in accordance with Annex C to insure that nuclear safety rules and procedures are being followed.

e. The Custodial Detachment Commander will designate an USAF Nuclear Safety Officer who, in conjunction with the RCAF Nuclear Safety Officer, will advise the RCAF Base Commander on matters pertaining to nuclear safety. However, any documents pertaining to nuclear safety and containing Restricted Data or Formerly Restricted Data will be passed to the RCAF in accordance with procedures established under “The Agreement Between the United States of America and the Government of Canada for Co­operation on Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence Purposes”) dated 22 May 1959 as amended. The authority of the Custodial Detachment Commander with respect to the determination of the non-adherence to United States Nuclear Weapon Safety Rules and procedures is final. Whenever he determines that a nuclear hazard exists, he will immediately notify the RCAF Base Commander of the situation, then place in storage the weapon involved, or take other appropriate action until the situation is corrected.

f. Protection from weapon radiological hazards, including detection and decontamination (exclusive of the nuclear weapon storage area which is the responsibility of the Custodial Detachment Commander) is the responsibility of the RCAF Base Commander. The Custodial Detachment Commander will be responsible for providing the necessary information on the nature of the hazard to the RCAF Base Commander.

g. USAF and RCAF personnel who control, handle, have access to, or control access to nuclear weapons, or nuclear weapon control systems, must be certified as acceptable in accordance with the criteria of the Human Reliability Programme (HRP) as specified in respective USAF and RCAF orders. 


a. The USAF will be responsible for destruction, neutralization, or disposal of all US munitions which may be provided within the framework of this agreement and which require the services of qualified technicians.

b. The RCAF will provide assistance as requested by the Custodial Detachment Commander.

c. Recovery of nuclear weapons, including warhead sections, will be accomplished by USAF personnel with the RCAF furnishing movement security as provided in Annex A, para 14, as appropriate. 



Minimum security standards and basic security responsibilities as set out in Annex A are established in accordance with the overall security plan for nuclear weapons and are contained in Annex C, SHAPE 6430/20 “Allied Command Europe Plan for the NATO Special Ammunition Storage Programme”. The Custodial Detachment Commander and the RCAF base Commander will maintain contact, exchange releasable regulations and security procedures and keep fully informed of all matters affecting security of the base and of US and Canadian property and personnel connected therewith.

a. USAF Responsibility: The Custodial Detachment Commander will maintain custody of and control access to the nuclear weapons and US owned training weapons, and will establish exclusion areas, to which only designated US personnel will normally be admitted. As used in this agreement, custody is defined as the guardianship and safekeeping of nuclear weapons and their components, including source and special materials. This includes:

(1) Accountability for warheads and materials classified Restricted Data or Formerly Restricted Data which remain with the US as US property.

(2) Control of access to the warheads or material classified Restricted Data or Formerly Restricted Data in that it would take an act of force against a US National, and therefore against the US Government, to obtain or use the warheads or materials classified as Restricted Data or Formerly Restricted Data, or obtain information concerning them.

b. Royal Canadian Air Force Responsibility: The RCAF is responsible for the general security of the agreed bases and external security of all land areas, structures, and other facilities made available by the RCAF for the use of the USAF. External security, for the purpose of this arrangement, is defined as protection against enemy forces, saboteurs, para-military forces or other unauthorized personnel. 


The RCAF will be responsible for all normal military police activities involving Canadian or US military personnel. Security violations or other offenses will be investigated and handled in accordance with the NATO SOFA or any subsequent inter-governmental agreement which may supplement or supersede it. Copies of base regulations of a police or security nature applicable to US personnel will be furnished for dissemination to all US personnel. 


The RCAF commander responsible for the security of an area in which US nuclear weapons are located will prepare, in coordination with the US custodial detachment commander in the area, plans for the evacuation of all nuclear weapons with minimum delay in event of subversive activity, disaster, civil riot, or any similar emergency.

a. Such plans will indicate the conditions in which an emergency may be considered to exist. Regardless of the condition or the type of the emergency, nuclear and US owned training weapons will remain under US custody until release is authorized in conformance with R-­Hour or S-Hour release procedures.

b. US personnel are responsible for destruction of US nuclear weapons when such action becomes necessary. Destruction orders issued by US custodial detachment commanders will be in accordance with joint plans. 


Claims for property loss or damage, personal injury or death, in connection with the operation of this agreement, shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the NATO SOFA or any other subsequent intergovernmental agreement which may supplement or supersede it. 


Attached hereto are Annexes A, B and C, which form an integral part of this agreement.

Annex A – Minimum Security Standards.

Annex B – Alert Procedures for RCAF Nuclear Strike Forces.

Annex C – USAFE and RCAF Nuclear Safety Inspection System. 


The. present agreement enters into force upon signature.

(signed by)

G.P Disosway                        D.A.R. Bradshaw

General, USAF                        Air Vice Marshal

Commander-in-Chief                        for Chief of the Air Staff

United States Air Force Europe                        Royal Canadian Air Force

31 January 1964                        31 January 1964




Certain SACEUR designated RCAF strike squadrons will have US nuclear weapons readily available for use in accordance with procedures established by SACEUR and subject to USCINCEUR custody and release. Such squadrons are required by SACEUR to provide a specific number of aircraft on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). The agreement establishes those responsibilities and procedures which must be followed to effect proper safety, custody and release for SACEUR committed RCAF units. These procedures will assure compliance with US Nuclear Weapon System Safety Rules and are considered the minimum essential to safeguard and control the nuclear weapons involved. However, both the USAF and the RCAF will comply with any additional restrictions or temporary limitations involving the weapon system when such are imposed by competent authority. 


The storage, handling, maintenance, loading, downloading, access or any other operation involving US nuclear weapons will be governed by the approved US Nuclear Weapon System Safety Rules as augmented by USCINCEUR/ CINCUSAFE and associated technical documents. Both USAFE and the RCAF will comply with and abide by these safety rules and the associated weapon system technical orders, checklists, or equivalents thereof approved by the USAF.

a. USAFE will provide the safety rules and appropriate technical publications as early as possible to facilitate the training of RCAF strike unit personnel and in no case later than assignment to QRA status.

b. The RCAF will insure expeditious distribution of these documents or changes thereto through national channels to the strike units. 


A portion of the SACEUR-committed RCAF force will be placed on QRA during peacetime conditions in order to provide SACEUR with a capability to launch high priority strikes in a minimum of time. During periods of increased international tension, SACEUR may declare conditions of advanced alert which require increased numbers of aircraft on QRA. The number of aircraft committed to QRA and the rate of force generation required by SACEUR announced alerts will be as specified in the SACEUR NSP. 


a. Practice Alerts. Those weapon systems and crews which are on normal peacetime QRA will be subject to “no-notice” peacetime alert exercises at periodic intervals. Such exercises will be held to a minimum consistent with the maintenance of the required readiness posture. The purpose of these practice alerts is to check the reaction time of the crews and custodial detachment personnel and to train them for safe and rapid response to an actual alert situation. During these exercises all actions required up to, but not including, connecting external power or turning on internal aircraft power may be performed. No change will be made to the alert configuration of the weapon and no power will be applied to the weapon system. All procedures for starting the aircraft engines and subsequent actions required will be simulated unless such action is specifically permitted in the approved US Nuclear Weapon System Safety Rules.

b. Operational Readiness, Exercises, inspections, and Tactical Evaluations: To develop and maintain the capability to met SACEUR’s force generation requirement (increased readiness), periodic full scale Emergency War Plan operational readiness exercises, inspections, unit tactical evaluations involving the weapon system, crews and custodial detachment personnel who are not on QRA will be conducted. Through these exercises weapon ground transportation and loading personnel are trained to perform safely and quickly tasks which would be required to generate additional forces under increased readiness conditions. During these exercises, inspections or evaluations, training weapons, inert practice bombs or war reserve weapons may be used.

(1) If war reserve weapons are used, the following criteria will apply:

(a) The procedures contained in paragraph 4 of this Annex which are applicable to a particular phase of the operation will be implemented.

(b) The weapon will be downloaded as soon as practicable.

(c) Adequate security will be provided all weapons.

(d) The “ARM-SAFE” switch, or the “READY-SAFE” switch will remain in the safe position.

(2) In all such exercises, regardless of the type of weapon or trainer used, security and access requirements will be the same as for war reserve weapons. 


a. During any operation involving US nuclear weapons or weapon loaded aircraft minimum of two (or more if specifically directed) authorized persons will be present. In each instance personnel must be capable of detecting incorrect or unauthorized procedures with respect to the task to be performed and familiar with pertinent safety and security requirements. The total number of personnel performing these functions will be held to a minimum consistent with the operation being performed.

b. Appropriate commanders will ensure that rigid administrative and security control procedures are constantly and vigorously enforced for all areas containing weapons.

c. Weapons Storage: Custodial detachments will store, maintain, inspect, modify and checkout all nuclear weapons and US-owned training weapons in accordance with approved US technical publications. Only approved test equipment and procedures will be used to perform electrical tests on such weapons.

d. Weapons Maintenance and Configuration:

(1) At any time a decrease in weapon reliability is suspected the weapon will be returned to the storage area for verification or maintenance.

(2) The Custodial detachment will thoroughly check all nuclear weapons to be placed on alert prior to delivery to the alert site.

(3) The RCAF will have no responsibility for maintenance of weapons other than final load checks and settings.

e. Weapons Loading and Downloading:

(1)  The Custodial detachment will:

(a)  Respond to the NATO formal and military alert requirements.

(b) Not apply power from the aircraft or external source to any loaded weapon prior to receipt of the SACEUR/ USCINCEUR RH­-1A or SU-IA message or receipt of instructions from an authorized source for the purpose of weapon maintenance, test, checking or setting, or as authorized in the US Nuclear Weapon System Safety Rules.

(c)  Monitor all weapon loading and load checks.

(d) Brief all alert aircrew, loading crews, USAF technicians and USAF custodians on the hazards associated with the inadvertent application of power and improper weapons handling.

(e) Provide a minimum of one USAF Weapon Custodian for each weapon/weapon system during ground transportation, loading, downloading and alert operations.

1. One custodial agent may have custody of two nuclear weapons provided they are not separated by more than 100 feet (30m), there are no intervening obstacles and visual and physical surveillance of each weapon or weapon system is possible.

(f) Monitor compliance by RCAF of applicable US approved safety rules and procedures.

(g) Provide a qualified weapon technician to monitor and assist RCAF during each weapon loading/downloading.

(2) The RCAF will:

(a) Provide only properly certified aircraft for loading of nuclear weapons or US-owned training weapons.

(b) Accomplish all loading, downloading and post load check procedures in accordance with approved USAF technical instructions and checklists or USAF approved RCAF equivalents.

(c) Keep to a minimum the towing of weapon loaded aircraft. During this operation the cockpit will be manned by the aircraft commander.

(d) Assure that no one is allowed entry to the QRA No Lone Zone or access to a weapon loaded aircraft unless accompanied by the assigned aircraft commander, designated weapon technician and a USAF custodian. A No Lone Zone is defined as the area clearly designated and lettered when no lone (single) individual is permitted access. The No Lone Zone is generally a circle around the weapon loaded aircraft of sufficient size to ensure that no part of the aircraft extends beyond that circle. In no case will the No Lone Zone be smaller than an area bounded by lines drawn between wing tips, tail, and nose of the aircraft.

(e) Insure that a qualified crew member checks the weapon for readiness prior to scramble.

f. Weapons Release:

(1) The Custodial detachment will provide an Alert Duty Officer on duty at all times that the RCAF strike unit is on QRA. The Alert Duty Officer will:

(a) Receive and authenticate the USCINCEUR portion of the SACEUR/USCINCEUR release message, then release US atomic weapons to the strike unit in conformance with SACEUR/USCINCEUR implementing instructions. It is mandatory that the SACEUR/USCINCEUR RH-1A or SU-1A release message be received in its entirety and authenticated prior to release of atomic weapons. If the SACEUR/USCINCEUR release message is received by the custodial detachment prior to receipt of this message by the RCAF Strike Unit through NATO National channels, the entire message will provided by the custodial detachment to the RCAF duty officer.

(b) Personally notify the USAF custodian(s) at the alert aircraft of the authority to release weapons.

(c) Notify the duty custodians at the storage area of the authority to release the remainder of the weapons assigned to the strike unit.

(2) When requested, the RCAF will assist in security and access control of the US Nuclear Release Materials Safe. The RCAF guard will ensure that access to this safe is gained only in the presence of a minimum of two US personnel, one of which must be a commissioned officer or warrant officer. A US Nuclear Release Materials Safe is a combination lock safe which contains US nuclear weapon release materials. When this safe is in position it will be in the centre of a clearly marked US Exclusion Zone.

g. Evacuation or Destruction of Nuclear Weapons:

The custodial detachment will:

(1) Prepare necessary plans in coordination with the RCAF to provide a capability for the evacuation or destruction of US nuclear weapons to prevent their loss by enemy action or any other unauthorized action.

(2) If required, supervise and execute the evacuation/destruction of US nuclear weapons.

(3) If required, recall previously released weapons for evacuation/destruction as directed by USCINCEUR or as deemed necessary. 


John Clearwater, Canadian Nuclear Weapons, Dundurn Press, Toronto, 1998, pp. 266-283.

        <-Front Page       /      Annex 5 and Endnotes->

About the Authors 
Martin Butcher is Director of Security Policy at Physicians for Social Responsibility in Washington. He previously was a Senior Visiting Fellow at the British American Security Information Council (BASIC). Before working in BASIC’s Washington office, he was Director of the Brussels-based Centre for European Security and Disarmament (CESD).

Otfried Nassauer is Director of the Berlin Information-Center for
Transatlantic Security (BITS).

Tanya Padberg is studying law. From 1998 to 1999 she was a
Ploughshares Fellow with BASIC.

Dan Plesch is Director of BASIC.


The authors would like to thank the many people who provided help of various kinds during the researching of this report. They include: Nicola Butler, for research, advice and writing help during the five years of this project; Christine Kucia, for proofing, editing and other advice; former BITS analysts Henrietta Wilson and Dr. Oliver Meier, for research assistance; Dr Georg Schoefbaenker and Stephen Young, for writing and research help at earlier phases of this project. Finally, those diplomats (serving and retired), necessarily anonymous, who have discussed this report and its conclusions with the authors at various stages in the research and writing process.

Much of the primary source research for this report was done by Tanya Padberg during her time at BASIC. Without her long work at the National Security Archive, much of the documentation on which this report is based would still not have come to light.


This report was made possible with the generous support of the W. Alton Jones Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.


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