Letter: Don't ignore costs of a bigger Nato

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The Independent Online
Sir: Further to Tony Barber's and Christopher Bellamy's articles on Nato and European Union enlargement (13 September), the possible combined costs of the concurrent expansions of the EU and Nato for all those concerned - existing members and would-be members - are still unknown, and therefore undiscussed.

The US ambassador to Nato, Robert Hunter, did not deal with costs in his (generally upbeat) address on Nato enlargement at the Royal United Services Institute, to which your correspondents refer - though the matter was raised in discussion. But surely the costs of these expansions must now be central to our plans for each of them.

There are some US estimates for Nato enlargement - from the Rand Corporation (a Washington defence think-tank) and the US congressional Budget Office - but the British government, despite its usual concern for "value for money", claims ignorance.

Yet any enlargement of Nato will require parliamentary approval throughout the existing membership (including two-thirds approval in the US Senate) and certainly the immediate and long-term costs will figure importantly for all of us.

With Nato, there are the still unresolved questions - siting nuclear weapons on East European members' soil, for instance: does the Non-Proliferation Treaty allow it? And about Article 5, which promises equality for all in what Tony Barber calls the "cast-iron security guarantee": how many more states can we sensibly offer this to, and how?

And what is to be Nato's relationship with the all-Europe organisation for co-operation and security in Europe (OSCE )to which, in some sort, Nato must be subordinated, despite the United States' "leadership" role in Nato and its only equal role in OSCE?

It is sometimes said that Nato and the EU, though both living in Brussels, are like "ships that pass in the night". OSCE is another ship out there in the dark, and all this multilateral non-communication grows increasingly absurd, increasingly confusing, and probably increasingly expensive.


London W2