Pre-ministerial Press Conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Excerpts)

December 4, 2017

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Good morning. This week, NATO’s Foreign Ministers will address, along a wide range of different issues, they will address how NATO can continue to adapt and that’s part of our preparations for the upcoming Summit here in Brussels next July.

We will begin tomorrow with a meeting on NATO-EU cooperation and European defence. Joined by High Representative / Vice President Mogherini, and ministers from Finland and Sweden. On the margins of the NATO Summit in July last year, President Juncker, President Tusk and I signed a Joint Declaration on how to strengthen NATO-EU cooperation. We followed up with a package of 42 concrete measures, which has brought our cooperation to an unprecedented level. 


Later on Tuesday, we will discuss global challenges, including North Korea. It is worth remembering that events on the Korean peninsula have shaped NATO profoundly. The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 triggered the complete remodelling of the Alliance. It literally put the “O” in NATO. With the creation of a permanent military headquarters, and the positions of Secretary General and SACEUR.

Today our security is also linked to events in East Asia. Last week’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile showed that all Allied nations could be within range. Our partners in the region are at risk. And North Korea’s actions are also undermining the global non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament regimes. So the whole world needs to apply maximum pressure on North Korea. In order to achieve a peacefully negotiated solution. Allies have been clear and consistent in their condemnation. And in pressing for full compliance with international sanctions. NATO has faced ballistic missile threats for decades.

Our response has always been credible deterrence. We have the capabilities and the resolve to deter any attack. Our military strength is what makes diplomatic efforts possible.


So with this, I am ready to take your questions.


Q: I just would like to ask about Iran. There were some reports a few days ago that one of the senior officials in Iran threatened to increase the missile range that they can reach Europe. So how do you respond to this threat, taking into consideration the argument now especially from the U.S. about the Iran nuclear deal and the concerns in the region, especially from Saudi Arabia?

Stoltenberg: I think we have to make a clear distinction between nuclear weapons and missile capabilities. The Iran nuclear deal addresses the ability of Iran to develop nuclear weapons. And NATO welcomed and supported the deal when it was agreed, and our focus now is to make sure that the deal is fully implemented, because that will directly affect the security of NATO allies. At the same time we have seen that Iran is continuing to develop their missile capabilities. They are continuing to test new missiles, and this of course is of concern for all NATO allies, especially allies in Europe, because they are within reach … at least more and more of those allies are within reach of the Iranian missiles.

And that’s also one of the reasons why it is important that NATO is adapting and responding to also these kind of threats. NATO is now developing and strengthening our missile defence. I participated in the inauguration of our missile defence site in Romania last year, and we are building a new missile site in Poland, and we also have ships deployed with interceptors and advanced radars, which are strengthening our missile defence, which is a response to missile threats we see from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, including to the south of the Alliance.

Moderator: Europa Press, lady in the fifth row.

Ana Pisonero (Europa Press): Thank you, Secretary General. Ana Pisonero from the Spanish News Agency Europa Press. Two quick questions if I may. The first one on cooperation on counter-terrorism with the EU. Will this be limited to intelligence exchange or is there room for any kind of more operational cooperation between the EU and NATO on counter-terrorism? And a second quick question on the North Korea threat and from Iran as well. So have NATO allies decided that we need changes to the NATO missile system or we’re not there yet? I mean you say that we’re reinforcing the system, but that was planned a long time ago before all these threats have become more acute, both from North Korea and maybe Iran as well. So is there… are NATO already allies engaging in the discussion? Is there clarity on whether we need these extra changes? Thank you.

Stoltenberg: First on the cooperation with the European Union. One of the areas we now are looking into how we can step up our cooperation is fighting terrorism. But as I said, negotiations are still going on, so I cannot go into the details about the different measures because that’s something I hope that we can agree by the meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. So we have an agreement at the ministerial meeting.

But of course areas where we are looking into how we can work closer together is for instance, when we operate in the same countries, like we have the same partners in North Africa or the Middle East. NATO’s present in Iraq. The European Union is also increasing their presence in Iraq, so any coordination of presence in the same countries will strengthen our joint efforts to fight terrorism. Cyber and hybrid is also at least partly relevant for strengthening our resilience, including against potential terrorist threats.

The NATO missile defence system is something we decided several years ago. It’s aimed at protecting NATO allies against threats coming from outside the Euro Atlantic area. And we develop that system according to plans we agreed several years ago. So that’s not something which is affected by the recent developments in North Korea.