Showing posts sorted by relevance for query chemical weapons. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query chemical weapons. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, April 15


Edward M. Spiers, professor of strategic studies at Leeds University, in England, explores both the myths and realities of chemical and biological warfare. Organized more or less
chronologically, Spiers recounts the evolution of chemical and biological weapons from the first mass uses of chemical weapons in World War I to the potential of modern biology to transform bioterrorism.

Spiers writes that chemical and biological weapons have probably been around as long as warfare itself. Ancient European, Indian, and Chinese history is replete with the use of poisonous snakes, insects, diseased animals, incendiaries, poison-tipped weapons, and poisoned water supplies in warfare. The first large-scale use of chemical weapons occurred in World War I, when the Germans discharged chlorine gas from cylinders at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915. 

Reported casualties from the gas ranged from 7,000 to 15,000 people, but after the initial surprise, the Allies were able to improvise protective measures. Within five months, the British were able to retaliate at the Battle of Loos, but they suffered 2,000 casualties to their own gas.

The failures of gas to break the enemy’s lines at Ypres, Loos, and other battles contributed to the legacy of gas warfare in World War I as a failure. However, Spiers argues, this legacy was largely shaped by postwar historians, because few participants shared that view. The use of gas actually increased over the course of the war. In addition to consequent casualties, gas negatively affected morale and considerably contributed to psychological and physical stress. Antigas defenses also made warfare more cumbersome, exacerbating logistical and communication challenges.

As evidence of the effectiveness of chemical weapons, real or imagined, Spiers writes that the Allies prohibited Germany from manufacturing and importing asphyxiating or poisonous
gases as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war. Furthermore, in 1925, 44 nations signed the Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons by international law and the “conscience and practice of nations.” Nonetheless, during the period between World Wars I and II, Britain considered but, for largely moral and political reasons, did not use chemical weapons in Egypt, Afghanistan, India, and Iraq.

Winston Churchill himself was “strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” Spiers writes. The eventual use of gas bombs by the Italians in Ethiopia in 1935–36, however, in direct contravention of the Ge ne va Protocol, reawakened Europe to the possibility of gas warfare. In Britain, more than 50 million “antigas” helmets had been distributed by the beginning of World War II. 


A Kurdish woman carries photos of relatives killed in chemical weapons attacks ordered
Questions of efficacy aside, Spiers writes that a combination of other factors averted the use
of chemical weapons during the Second World War. Because of the industrial and economic
hardships engendered as a result of the First World War, German, French, and British
chemical production capacity was limited. Hitler personally disdained chemical weapons,
which had injured him during World War I

Moreover, early in World War II, Germany did not need to resort to chemical weapons, and the Allies could not risk using them near friendlycivilian populations. Eventually, Germany did test its V1 and V2 rockets with chemical warheads, although the nation was deterred from using them by fear of reprisal against its civilian population. 

By the end of the war, U.S. military-industrial might had produced the world’s largest stock of chemical weapons and the air power to deliver them. However, the development of the atomic bomb, and success on other fronts, made their use unnecessary.

Biological weapons were not used to a significant extent in either the First or Second World
Wars. Nonetheless, as Spiers describes, there were still chilling reminders of the potential
power of even crude biological weapons. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, six Japanese soldiers released hordes of plague-infested rats and 60 horses infected with glanders into the Chinese countryside, leaving Changchun and surrounding environs uninhabitable until the mid-1950s.

Nuclear weapons, of course, came to dominate deterrence strategies during the Cold War.
Nonetheless, the proliferation of a new class of chemical weapons, nerve agents such as
sarin [2-(fluoro-methylphosphoryl)oxypropane], touched off a new chemical arms race, Spiers writes. From 1954 to 1969, the U.S. also manufactured and stockpiled numerous antiplant and antipersonnel biological weapons.

In Vietnam, the U.S. faced criticism, both at home and abroad, for its use of riot-control agents (to clear tunnels, for example), defoliants, and chemical weapons to kill crops and render soils infertile. In 1967 alone, the U.S. defoliated 1.5 million acres of vegetation and destroyed 220,000 acres of crops in Vietnam. In 1969, the Nixon Administration announced the end of the U.S. biological weapons program, in part, Spiers argues, to blunt criticism for its use of herbicides and riot control agents in Vietnam.

In the meantime, Spiers writes, the Soviets were developing the world’s most advanced chemical and biological weapons program.

During the Cold War, Iran and Iraq also waged a devastating war (1980–88) that again witnessed the mass by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Credit: Newscom use of chemical weapons. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) later confirmed that the Iraqis had used some 1,800 tons of mustard agent, 140 tons of tabun (ethyl Ndimethyl phosphoramido cyanidate), and 600 tons of sarin. 

Iraq estimated these attacks resulted in more than 30,000 Iranian casualties (compared with the 500,000 to 1 million estimated total Iranian casualties). As Spiers notes, although the number of casualties from chemical weapons may have been small on a relative basis, the psychological impact was significant. Iraq’s ballistic missiles, and the fear of their potential to deliver chemical warheads to Iranian cities, played a role in Iran’s accepting the United Nations-brokered truce in 1988. Iraqi chemical weapons also helped to suppress the internal Kurdish rebellion, killing and injuring thousands of Kurds and leading to the flight of 65,000 others to Turkey in 1988, Spiers writes.

By the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq had significantly restocked and improved its chemical weapons capabilities. U.S. Central Commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf originally planned for 10,000 to 20,000 chemical weapons casualties, but Iraq never resorted to chemical weapons. The George H. W. Bush Administration had already decided not to respond with nuclear or chemical weapons if coalition forces were attacked with chemical weapons, but they deliberately conveyed the opposite impression.

Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Tariq Aziz later commented that the Iraqis understood that the use of chemical weapons might very well provoke the use of nuclear weapons against Baghdad by the U.S. Although Iraq’s SCUD missile attacks against Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain inflicted minimal physical damage, the specter of chemical warheads inflicted great psychological damage. Spiers quotes Schwarzkopf: “The biggest concern was a chemical warhead threat. … Each time they launched … the question was, is this going to be a chemical missile. That was what you were concerned about.” 

Their unique ability to engender such fears, of course, is precisely what makes chemical and biological weapons appealing to terrorists. As Spiers astutely notes, “terrorists can choose when, where, and how to attack their targets, they can avoid many of the uncertainties that have bedeviled the military use of chemical and biological weapons. By maximizing the element of surprise, they can attack targets with low or non-existent levels of protection; by careful choice of target environment, especially an enclosed facility, they need not wait upon optimum meteorological conditions; by attacking highly vulnerable areas, they may use a less than optimal mode of delivery; and by making a chemical or biological assault, they may expect to capture media attention and cause widespread panic.”

Although chemical weapons have been used much more frequently, Spiers notes that on a per-mass basis, biological weapons are more lethal than chemical weapons. As advances in production technologies can simultaneously result in increased yields in smaller, harder-todetect facilities, the potential utility of biological weapons to terrorists will become even more significant. 

In the most well-known example of biological terrorism to date, in October 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, anthrax-tainted letters began appearing in the U.S. Despite fears of another international attack, the strain was identified as having come from a domestic source, the Army research facility at Fort Detrick, Md. Letters were received in Florida, New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., including a Senate office building. As Spiers described it, “massive panic and chaos” erupted, and Congress and the Supreme Court were closed for several days, although only 22 cases of anthrax actually resulted, including just five fatalities.

One of the most sobering developments outlined in the book is the application and
proliferation of emergent molecular biology techniques to the production of biological
weapons. Through the use of genetic engineering, new or modified organisms of greater
virulence, antibiotic resistance, and environmental stability may be produced. 

In one notable example foreshadowing the utility of biotechnology to weapons production, the Soviets developed the host bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which through genetic engineering could also produce the myelin toxin. Infected animals developed both the tuberculosis-like symptoms caused by the bacteria and the paralysis induced by the myelin toxin. One former Soviet scientist recalled that after a briefing on the results, “the room was absolutely silent. We all recognized the implications of what the scientists had achieved. A new class of weapon had been found.”

Additional topics in this comprehensive book include the various international attempts at chemical and biological weapons disarmament, deterrence, and nonproliferation, including the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention; the sarin attacks on the Japanese subways in the mid-1990s; the use of chemical warfare in developing-world conflicts; and the embarrassing failures of American and British intelligence regarding Iraqi chemical weapons that led to the second Gulf War. 

For those of us interested in the potential impacts of chemistry and biology on humankind, Spiers’s book is a thoroughly documented, no-nonsense (often to the point of being dry) review of the malevolent potential of our science.

Read also here
and here

Friday, April 7


On the eve of the 14th anniversary of one of the most contentious and divisive wars in living memory, Peter Taylor forensically investigates how key aspects of the secret intelligence used by Downing Street and the White House to justify the invasion of Iraq, were based on fabrication, wishful thinking and lies.
Using remarkable first hand testimony, this one-hour Panorama special reveals the full story of how two very highly placed sources, both close to Saddam Hussein, talked secretly to the CIA via an intermediary and directly to MI6 in the build-up to the war and said Iraq did not have an active Weapons of Mass Destruction programme. But both were ignored.

In a compelling story of spies and intrigue, deception and lies, key players reveal how sparse British and American intelligence was and how none of the handful of human sources had direct knowledge of WMD production. 

The former CIA Paris Station Chief, Bill Murray, explains how he used an intermediary to recruit Iraq’s Foreign Minister and his frustration when he found crucial intelligence from this source was rejected because it didn’t fit in with the White House’s agenda. 

The intelligence from Iraq’s Foreign Minister was confirmed four months later, when an MI6 officer met Iraq’s Head of Intelligence, who passed on the same message, saying Iraq had no WMD.

Lord Butler, author of the 2004 report into the WMD intelligence, says the British public was misled.

With a series of revelatory interviews, including a shocking exchange with the Iraqi spy and self-confessed fabricator ‘Curveball’, Panorama sheds new light on the spies who fooled the world.

Saturday, July 30

                                                                   Margarte Brennan

Since 2012, Ms. Brennan has covered foreign policy issues and traveled with secretaries Kerry, Clinton, and Hagel. She was among the first to interview Secretary Kerry about freezing Iran’s nuclear program and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. She interviewed South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and reported from Tehran during the 2012 Non-Aligned Movement. She was part of the CBS team to win a DuPont-Columbia Award for coverage of the Newtown Tragedy. Previously, Ms. Brennan spent a decade at Bloomberg Television and CNBC. She is a Council on Foreign Relations term member, University of Virginia alum, and studied Arabic at Yarmouk University as a Fulbright-Hays Scholar.

Wednesday, July 27


FOUR BILLIONS USD OF WEAPONS FLOWING FROM BALKAN TO SYRIA. Jabhat al-Nusra fighters carry assault rifles as they move towards their positions during those last years' offensive. AK47s, machine guns, explosives and more travel along new arms pipeline from Balkans to countries known to supply Syria

Since the escalation of the Syrian conflict in 2012, weapons have been pouring into four countries who supply arms to ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey.

Reporters for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) found that since 2012 exports of weapons and ammunition worth at least 1.2 billion euros have been agreed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, and Romania [link to regional story].

The bulk of the deals, totalling 829 million euros, were made with Saudi Arabia.

The source countries have granted the arms export licences despite ample evidence that many weapons are ending up in Syria, with armed opposition as well as Islamist groups accused of widespread abuses.

Arms trade and human rights experts said the diversion of these weapons and their use by groups suspected of committing war crimes raised questions about the legality of the trade.

Patrick Wilcken, an arms trade researcher for Amnesty International, believes the evidence uncovered by BIRN and the OCCRP points to the “systematic diversion of weapons to armed groups accused of committing serious human rights violations”.

A flawed system

The global arms trade is regulated by three layers of interconnected legislation -- national, European Union (EU) and international – but there are no formal mechanisms to punish those who break the law.

Beyond the blanket ban on exports to embargoed countries, each licence request is dealt with individually. As a result, the lawfulness of the approval hinges on whether countries have carried out due diligence on a range of issues, including the likelihood of the arms being diverted and the impact the export will have on peace and stability.

Roy Isbister, an expert on arms trade laws with the London-based NGO Saferworld, stresses due diligence entails more than simply ticking off a document checklist.

"Due diligence obliges states to not only collect paperwork, but to assess that paperwork. And, in turn, assessing paperwork is itself only part of a proper export risk assessment,” he said.

“States that rely on end-use certificates and the like as sufficient justification for issuing licences are not meeting their legal obligations.”

Member states of the EU are also governed by the legally-binding 2008 Common Position on arms exports, requiring each country to take into account eight criteria when accessing arms exports licence applications, including whether the country respects international human rights, the preservation of “regional peace, security and stability” and the risk of diversion.

As part of their efforts to join the EU, BiH, Serbia and Montenegro have already accepted the measures and amending their national law.

In May 2013, an EU arms embargo on exports to Syria was lifted, under pressure from the governments of France and the UK, to allow supplies to reach the Syrian opposition. However, all three layers of law remained in force, requiring countries to go beyond just checking the paperwork.

Weapons exports are initially assessed based on an end-user certificate, a key document issued by the government of the importing country which guarantees who will use the weapons and that the arms are not intended for re-export.

Authorities in Central and Eastern Europe told BIRN and the OCCRP that they also inserted a clause which requires the buyer to seek approval if they later want to export the goods.

Beyond these initial checks, countries are required to carry out a range of other risk assessments, although conversations with, and statements from, authorities revealed little evidence of that.

Diversions to Syria

A large number of arms exports to the Middle Easter are being diverted to Syria, according to evidence collected by BIRN and the OCCRP from contracts, UN reports, and social media postings showing Eastern-European-made weapons in heavy use in the conflict [link to regional story].

Reporters for BIRN and the OCCRP obtained Saudi contracts and end-user certificates with Serbian and Slovakian arms brokers detailing requests for vast amounts of old Soviet, Warsaw-Pact and Yugoslav era weaponry.

Article 11 of the ATT covers diversion of weapons from their intended recipient, and requires countries to take a series of measures to prevent this.

Although the Treaty suggests that countries may stop the export based on the risk of diversion, it does not clearly state that they must do so. States that discover their exports have been diverted must take “appropriate measures” according to national and international law, although this is not explained further.

The EU Common Position is clearer, however, and dictates that exporters must assess the “existence of a risk that the military technology or equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions”.

Bodil Valero, a Swedish Green Party Member of the European Parliament who was rapporteur for the last EU arms export report, believes this risk assessment is not being carried our properly. “Countries selling arms to Saudi Arabia or the MENA[Middle East-North Africa] region are not carrying out good risk assessments and, as a result, are in breach of EU and national law,” she explained.

Licensing authorities for Croatia, Slovakia and Montenegro all indicated to BIRN and OCCRP that they rely largely on verifying documents such as end-user certificates when approving an exports.

Only the Czech Foreign Ministry directly addressed the issues of human rights violations and diversion of weapons, pointing out that some licences had been turned down on that basis.
In November 2013, Serbia blocked the export of weapons and ammunition worth 20 million euros to Saudi Arabia amid widespread concerns that it would not be used by that country’s expensively-equipped security forces but would, instead, end up in Syria, according to a confidential report from Serbia's Ministry of Defence obtained by BIRN and the OCCRP.

The documents also reveal fears were raised that Belgrade's path to EU membership could be stymied and its relationship with long-time ally Russia damaged if the deal went ahead.

Yet just over a year later, and after the adoption of the ATT, Serbia approved exports of arms and ammunition worth 135 million euros to Saudi Arabia.

Asked about Serbia’s volte-face on the exports, Stevan Nikcevic, the state secretary at the Ministry of Trade responsible for approving arms export licences, said that the ministries that had blocked the earlier sale “didn’t have the same concerns” now.

The arms export licences to Saudi Arabia were approved because they would have a “positive impact” on the “operation of Serbia’s defence industry”, said the Serbian Ministry of Defence, one of the ministries consulted as part of the licensing process, in a written response to BIRN and the OCCRP.

While economic factors cannot be taken in consideration, Swedish MEP Valero believes they weigh heavily on the decisions made by countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

“They want to have people working in the arms industry with jobs, of course,” she said.

A UN Human Rights report, published in March 2015, also noted that Croatia, despite its international obligations, was showing “a disturbing lack of concern about the re-transfer and end use of weapons to countries including Syria and Iraq.”

Darko Kihalic, the head of the arms licensing department at the Croatian Ministry of the Economy, told BIRN and the OCCRP that there is little more that Croatia can do apart from checking the paperwork.

Saudi Arabia is not a “blacklisted” country, he said, adding: “Are there misuses? There probably are.”

Valero, however, underlined: “In the end it is always the [exporting] government that has responsibility. They take the decision and they have to be accountable for these decisions.”

Trail of atrocities

Under Article 6 of the ATT, the sale of weapons or ammunition is prohibited if the exporter has prior “knowledge” these will be used in war crimes or attacks directed against civilians.

A legal opinion on the sale of UK weapons to Saudi Arabia, prepared by London’s Matrix Chambers in December 2015, looked at what “knowledge” meant in this circumstance. It found that the ATT’s Article 6 would be breached if the exporter “was aware, or should normally have been aware” that they would be used in attacks directed against “civilians/civilian objects or in the commission of war crimes”.

Article 7 requires governments to assess the risk of the arms being used to commit or facilitate a serious breach of international humanitarian law or terrorist act and whether they “would undermine peace and security”.

If, despite mitigating measures, there is an “overriding risk of any of the negative consequences” the sale must be blocked.

While forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and the Islamic State are acknowledged by groups such as a Human Rights Watch to have committed by far the most widespread atrocities, other moderate and Islamist opposition groups supported by the US and Gulf states have also been the subject of serious allegations, including claims of perpetrating war crimes.

Saudi Arabia-backed Jaysh Al-Islam, a powerful Islamist group, is alleged to have carried out executions, chemical weapon attacks and to have used caged prisoners as human shields, according to credible press reports and cases documented by Human Rights Watch

In May 2016, Amnesty International accused Fatah Halab, an alliance of fighters in Aleppo including western-backed moderates and Saudi-supported Islamists that recently received Serbian heavy machine guns, of "repeated indiscriminate attacks that may amount to war crimes” against a Kurdish neighbourhood.

Magdalena Mughrabi, of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme, called on Turkey, the Gulf states and “other backers” to halt weapons transfers to rebels.

Moderate forces under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) umbrella, which have received military equipment from the US, have been implicated in human rights abuses, including shelling civilian areas and targeting civilian offices with a Yugoslav M79 rocket-launcher, according to Human Rights Watch.The targeting civilian areas and property are both reasons to block an arms export deal under Article 6 of the ATT.

This type of weapon was part of a batch of arms transported to Jordan in 2012 and 2013 and later transferred to Syria.

“I don't think anyone is fighting clean in Syria at the moment,” said Hadeel Al-Shalchi, a researcher and expert on the Syrian conflict at Human Rights Watch.

“On the government side [there are] airstrikes on hospitals, on marketplaces, on large civilian infrastructure areas. And from the armed opposition groups, what they do is fire mortars, locally made rockets, artillery ... into environments like Aleppo city.”

Amnesty’s Mughrabi added: “The international community must not turn a blind eye to the mounting evidence of war crimes by armed opposition groups in Syria. The fact that the scale of war crimes by government forces is far greater is no excuse for tolerating serious violations by the opposition.”

Way forward

While no formal sanctions mechanism exists to punish countries that flout their international obligations, Valero argues that non-governmental organisations and individuals can take legal action against governments if they believe that arms export laws are being broken.

In England, the Campaign Against Arms Trade has launched a judicial review against the British government for its continued exports to Saudi Arabia.

It alleges that the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills broke national, EU and ATT arms export laws as there is a clear risk these arms could be used by Saudi forces in Yemen in breach of international humanitarian law.

The British government argues that its weapons exports system is among the most robust in the world. The case is ongoing.

MEP Valero said that if action in national courts fails, other options exist.

“I think these [Central and Eastern European] countries could be taken to the European Court of Justice,” she said.

In March of this year, the Netherlands became the first EU country to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia, citing mass executions and civilian deaths in Yemen.

Tuesday, September 15


Two car bombs exploded in the Syrian city of Hasaka on monday, killing Kurdish forces, regime soldiers and more than a dozen civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group

The bombings were part of an ongoing conflict in the city, the majority of which is held by Kurdish militia members battling Islamic State forces.

Monday's attacks reflect just a tiny fraction of violence occurring on a daily basis in Syria. More than 200,000 people have lost their lives in the Syrian conflict since its start in March 2011, including more than 70,000 civilians, and the toll continues to climb.

Nearly 5,000 people died last month alone, according to the Syrian Observatory, including 252 children. This includes hundreds of deaths due to government air strikes, according to a report by The New York Times.

In the last week, at least 80 combatants have been killed in fighting around the capital of Damascus. Scores of Islamic State militants and government forces died in a battle in the country's east on Thursday

Last week, more reports emerged that Islamic State militants had used chemical weapons in an attack in August. 

Europe is now facing a major migrant crisis, with thousands of undocumented asylum seekers mostly from conflict-torn countries of the Middle East arriving to the EU with hopes for a better life.

If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists. That’s what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees," Assad said.

Bashar Assad called Tuesday on all forces in Syria to unite against terrorism: "I would like to take this opportunity to call on all forces to unite against terrorism, because it is the way to achieve the political objectives which we as Syrians want through dialogue and political action".

The president underscored that a successful political dialogue in Syria is possible only after terrorism has been defeated in the country. 

"We have to continue dialogue in order to reach the consensus as I said, but if you want to implement anything real, it’s impossible to do anything while you have people being killed, bloodletting hasn’t stopped, people feel insecure," he said. "So, we can achieve consensus, but we cannot implement unless we defeat the terrorism in Syria".

Monday, May 11


We, the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, have gathered in Wales at a pivotal moment in Euro-Atlantic security. Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine have fundamentally challenged our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. Growing instability in our southern neighbourhood, from the Middle East to North Africa, as well as transnational and multi-dimensional threats, are also challenging our security. These can all have long-term consequences for peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic region and stability across the globe.

Our Alliance remains an essential source of stability in this unpredictable world. Together as strong democracies, we are united in our commitment to the Washington Treaty and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Based on solidarity, Alliance cohesion, and the indivisibility of our security, NATO remains the transatlantic framework for strong collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies. 

The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack, as set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. 

As stated in the Transatlantic Declaration that we issued today, we are committed to further strengthening the transatlantic bond and to providing the resources, capabilities, and political will required to ensure our Alliance remains ready to meet any challenge. 

We stand ready to act together and decisively to defend freedom and our shared values of individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to fulfil all three core tasks set out in our Strategic Concept: collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. 

Here in Wales, we have taken decisions to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. We are reaffirming our strong commitment to collective defence and to ensuring security and assurance for all Allies; we are adapting our operations, including in Afghanistan, in light of progress made and remaining challenges; and we are strengthening our partnerships with countries and organisations around the globe to better build security together.

Every day, our troops deliver the security that is the foundation of our prosperity and our way of life. We pay tribute to all the brave men and women from Allied and partner nations who have served, and continue to serve, in NATO-led operations and missions. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to all those who have lost their lives or been injured, and we extend our profound sympathy to their families and loved ones.

In order to ensure that our Alliance is ready to respond swiftly and firmly to the new security challenges, today we have approved the NATO Readiness Action Plan. 

It provides a coherent and comprehensive package of necessary measures to respond to the changes in the security environment on NATO's borders and further afield that are of concern to Allies. It responds to the challenges posed by Russia and their strategic implications. It also responds to the risks and threats emanating from our southern neighbourhood, the Middle East and North Africa. 

The Plan strengthens NATO's collective defence. It also strengthens our crisis management capability. The Plan will contribute to ensuring that NATO remains a strong, ready, robust, and responsive Alliance capable of meeting current and future challenges from wherever they may arise.

The elements of the Plan include measures that address both the continuing need for assurance of Allies and the adaptation of the Alliance's military strategic posture.

The assurance measures include continuous air, land, and maritime presence and meaningful military activity in the eastern part of the Alliance, both on a rotational basis. They will provide the fundamental baseline requirement for assurance and deterrence, and are flexible and scalable in response to the evolving security situation.

Adaptation measures include the components required to ensure that the Alliance can fully address the security challenges it might face. We will significantly enhance the responsiveness of our NATO Response Force (NRF) by developing force packages that are able to move rapidly and respond to potential challenges and threats. 

As part of it, we will establish a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), a new Allied joint force that will be able to deploy within a few days to respond to challenges that arise, particularly at the periphery of NATO's territory. 

This force should consist of a land component with appropriate air, maritime, and special operations forces available. Readiness of elements of the VJTF will be tested through short-notice exercises. We will also establish an appropriate command and control presence and some in-place force enablers on the territories of eastern Allies at all times, with contributions from Allies on a rotational basis, focusing on planning and exercising collective defence scenarios. 

If required, they will also facilitate reinforcement of Allies located at NATO's periphery for deterrence and collective defence. We will further enhance NATO's ability to quickly and effectively reinforce those Allies, including through preparation of infrastructure, prepositioning of equipment and supplies, and designation of specific bases. Adequate host nation support will be critical in this respect. 

We will also ensure that our Allied forces maintain the adequate readiness and coherence needed to conduct NATO's full range of missions, including deterring aggression against NATO Allies and demonstrating preparedness to defend NATO territory. We will enhance our Standing Naval Forces to support maritime situational awareness and to conduct the full spectrum of conventional maritime operations.

We will ensure that the current NATO Command Structure remains robust, agile, and able to undertake all elements of effective command and control for simultaneous challenges; this includes a regional focus to exploit regional expertise and enhance situational awareness. 

Contributing Allies will raise the readiness and capabilities of the Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast and will also enhance its role as a hub for regional cooperation. We will enhance our intelligence and strategic awareness and we will place renewed emphasis on advance planning.

We will establish an enhanced exercise programme with an increased focus on exercising collective defence including practising comprehensive responses to complex civil-military scenarios. The Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) we agreed in Chicago will be instrumental in ensuring full coherence of the training and exercise elements of the Readiness Action Plan.

Development and implementation of the adaptation measures will be done on the basis of the evolving strategic environment in the regions of concern, including in the eastern and southern peripheries of the Alliance, which will be closely monitored, assessed, and prepared for.

We have tasked our Defence Ministers to oversee the expeditious implementation of the Readiness Action Plan, which will begin immediately.

We will ensure that NATO is able to effectively address the specific challenges posed by hybrid warfare threats, where a wide range of overt and covert military, paramilitary, and civilian measures are employed in a highly integrated design. It is essential that the Alliance possesses the necessary tools and procedures required to deter and respond effectively to hybrid warfare threats, and the capabilities to reinforce national forces

This will also include enhancing strategic communications, developing exercise scenarios in light of hybrid threats, and strengthening coordination between NATO and other organisations, in line with relevant decisions taken, with a view to improving information sharing, political consultations, and staff-to-staff coordination. 

We welcome the establishment of the NATO-accredited Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Latvia as a meaningful contribution to NATO's efforts in this area. We have tasked the work on hybrid warfare to be reviewed alongside the implementation of the Readiness Action Plan.

We agree to reverse the trend of declining defence budgets, to make the most effective use of our funds and to further a more balanced sharing of costs and responsibilities. 

Our overall security and defence depend both on how much we spend and how we spend it. Increased investments should be directed towards meeting our capability priorities, and Allies also need to display the political will to provide required capabilities and deploy forces when they are needed. 

A strong defence industry across the Alliance, including a stronger defence industry in Europe and greater defence industrial cooperation within Europe and across the Atlantic, remains essential for delivering the required capabilities. NATO and EU efforts to strengthen defence capabilities are complementary.

Taking current commitments into account, we are guided by the following considerations: Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so. Likewise, Allies spending more than 20% of their defence budgets on major equipment, including related Research & Development, will continue to do so.

Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level will:
-halt any decline in defence expenditure;
-aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
-aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO's capability shortfalls.

Allies who currently spend less than 20% of their annual defence spending on major new equipment, including related Research & Development, will aim, within a decade, to increase their annual investments to 20% or more of total defence expenditures.

All Allies will:
-ensure that their land, air and maritime forces meet NATO agreed guidelines -for deployability and sustainability and other agreed output metrics;
-ensure that their armed forces can operate together effectively, including through the implementation of agreed NATO standards and doctrines.

Allies will review national progress annually. This will be discussed at future Defence Ministerial meetings and reviewed by Heads of State and Government at future Summits.

We condemn in the strongest terms Russia's escalating and illegal military intervention in Ukraine and demand that Russia stop and withdraw its forces from inside Ukraine and along the Ukrainian border. This violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is a serious breach of international law and a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security. 

We do not and will not recognise Russia's illegal and illegitimate 'annexation' of Crimea. 

We demand that Russia comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; end its illegitimate occupation of Crimea; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; withdraw its troops; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border. 

Russia must use its influence with the separatists to de-escalate the situation and take concrete steps to allow for a political and a diplomatic solution which respects Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and internationally recognised borders.

We are deeply concerned that the violence and insecurity in the region caused by Russia and the Russian-backed separatists are resulting in a deteriorating humanitarian situation and material destruction in eastern Ukraine. 

We are concerned about discrimination against the native Crimean Tatars and other members of local communities in the Crimean peninsula. 

We demand that Russia take the necessary measures to ensure the safety, rights and freedoms of everyone living on the peninsula. This violence and insecurity also led to the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. 

Recalling United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2166, Allies call upon all states and actors in the region to ensure immediate, safe, and unrestricted access to the crash site of MH17 to allow resumption of the investigation and the repatriation of the remains and belongings of the victims still present at the site. Those directly and indirectly responsible for the downing of MH17 should be held accountable and brought to justice as soon as possible.

We are also concerned by Russia's pattern of disregard for international law, including the UN Charter; its behaviour towards Georgia and the Republic of Moldova; its violation of fundamental European security arrangements and commitments, including those in the Helsinki Final Act; its long-standing non-implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE); and its use of military and other instruments to coerce neighbours. 

This threatens the rules-based international order and challenges Euro-Atlantic security. In addition, these developments may potentially have long-term effects on stability in the Black Sea region, which remains an important component of Euro-Atlantic security. Russia's current actions are contrary to the principles on which the established confidence building mechanisms in the Black Sea were built. 

We will continue to support, as appropriate, regional efforts by Black Sea littoral states aimed at ensuring security and stability.

While Russia continues to intervene militarily, arm separatists, and foment instability in Ukraine, we support the sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU), the G7, and others, which are an essential part of the overall international effort to address the destabilizing behaviour of Russia, bring it to de­escalate, and arrive at a political solution to the crisis created by its actions. 

Amongst these are measures taken by Allies including Canada, Norway and the United States, as well as the EU decisions to limit access to capital markets for Russian state-owned financial institutions, restrict trade in arms, establish restrictions for export of dual use goods for military end uses, curtail Russian access to sensitive defence and energy sector technologies, and other measures.

Allies have had, and will continue in the course of our ongoing work, a strategic discussion regarding Euro-Atlantic security and Russia. This discussion provides the basis for NATO's vision regarding our approach to, and the mechanisms of the Alliance's relations with, Russia in the future.

For more than two decades, NATO has strived to build a partnership with Russia, including through the mechanism of the NATO-Russia Council, based upon the NATO-Russia Founding Act and the Rome Declaration. Russia has breached its commitments, as well as violated international law, thus breaking the trust at the core of our cooperation. The decisions we have taken at the Summit demonstrate our respect for the rules-based European security architecture.

We continue to believe that a partnership between NATO and Russia based on respect for international law would be of strategic value. 

We continue to aspire to a cooperative, constructive relationship with Russia, including reciprocal confidence building and transparency measures and increased mutual understanding of NATO's and Russia's non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe, based on our common security concerns and interests, in a Europe where each country freely chooses its future. 

We regret that the conditions for that relationship do not currently exist. 

As a result, NATO's decision to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia remains in place. Political channels of communication, however, remain open.

The Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. But we cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which our Alliance and security in Europe and North America rest. 

NATO is both transparent and predictable, and we are resolved to display endurance and resilience, as we have done since the founding of our Alliance. The nature of the Alliance's relations with Russia and our aspiration for partnership will be contingent on our seeing a clear, constructive change in Russia's actions which demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.

An independent, sovereign, and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security. At a time when Ukraine's security is being undermined, the Alliance continues its full support for Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. 

The broad support for United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262 on the Territorial Integrity of Ukraine, demonstrates the international rejection of Russia's illegal and illegitimate 'annexation' of Crimea. We are extremely concerned by the further escalation of aggressive actions in eastern Ukraine. We see a concerted campaign of violence by Russia and Russian-backed separatists aimed at destabilising Ukraine as a sovereign state.

We commend the people of Ukraine for their commitment to freedom and democracy and their determination to decide their own future and foreign policy course free from outside interference. We welcome the holding of free and fair Presidential elections on 25 May 2014 under difficult conditions and the signature of the Association Agreement with the European Union on 27 June 2014, which testify to the consolidation of Ukraine's democracy and its European aspiration. In this context, we look forward to the elections to the Verkhovna Rada in October 2014.

We encourage Ukraine to further promote an inclusive political process, based on democratic values and respect for human rights, minorities, and the rule of law. We welcome President Poroshenko's Peace Plan and call on all parties to meet their commitments, including those made in Geneva and Berlin. We call on Russia to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Ukrainian government. 

We actively support ongoing diplomatic efforts towards a sustainable political solution to the conflict which respects Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

We commend and fully support the actions of other international organisations that are contributing to de-escalation and pursuing a peaceful solution to the crisis, in particular the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the EU. 

We welcome the swift deployment of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which must be able to operate unhindered and have access to all regions of Ukraine in order to fulfil its mandate. 

We also welcome the decision by the EU to launch a Common Security and Defence Policy mission to assist Ukraine in the field of civilian security sector reform, including police and the rule of law. Recognising the right of Ukraine to restore peace and order and to defend its people and territory, we encourage the Ukrainian armed forces and security services to continue to exercise the utmost restraint in their ongoing operation so as to avoid casualties among the local civilian population.

Ukraine is a long-standing and distinctive partner of the Alliance. At our meeting here in Wales, we met with President Poroshenko and issued a joint statement. 

We highly value Ukraine's past and present contributions to all current Allied operations as well as to the NATO Response Force.

We encourage and will continue to support Ukraine's implementation of wide-ranging reforms through the Annual National Programme, in the framework of our Distinctive Partnership. 

We have launched additional efforts to support the reform and transformation of the security and defence sectors and promote greater interoperability between Ukraine's and NATO forces. These efforts are designed to enhance Ukraine's ability to provide for its own security. 

We welcome Ukraine's participation in the Partnership Interoperability Initiative and Ukraine's interest in the enhanced opportunities within the Initiative, and look forward to its future participation.

Russia's illegitimate occupation of Crimea and military intervention in eastern Ukraine have raised legitimate concerns among several of NATO's other partners in Eastern Europe. Allies will continue to support the right of partners to make independent and sovereign choices on foreign and security policy, free from external pressure and coercion. Allies also remain committed in their support to the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.

In this context, we will continue to support efforts towards a peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the south Caucasus, as well as in the Republic of Moldova, based upon these principles and the norms of international law, the UN Charter, and the Helsinki Final Act. The persistence of these protracted conflicts continues to be a matter of particular concern, undermining the opportunities for citizens in the region to reach their full potential as members of the Euro-Atlantic community. 

We urge all parties to engage constructively and with reinforced political will in peaceful conflict resolution, within the established negotiation frameworks.

We are deeply concerned by the growing instability and mounting transnational and multi-dimensional threats across the Middle East and North Africa region. These threats directly affect the security of the people living there, as well as our own security. Peace and stability in this region are essential for the Alliance. 

Therefore, we emphasise the need for lasting calm and an end to violence. We continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the peoples in this region for peace, security, democracy, justice, prosperity, and the preservation of their identity. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and explore options for possible NATO assistance to bilateral and international efforts to promote stability and contribute to the response to the growing crisis in, and threats from, the Middle East region.

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a grave threat to the Iraqi people, to the Syrian people, to the wider region, and to our nations. We are outraged by ISIL's recent barbaric attacks against all civilian populations, in particular the systematic and deliberate targeting of entire religious and ethnic communities. 

We condemn in the strongest terms ISIL's violent and cowardly acts. If the security of any Ally is threatened, we will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to ensure our collective defence. The rapid deterioration of the security situation in Iraq and ISIL's expanding threat underline the necessity for a political solution based upon an inclusive Iraqi government with cross-sectarian representation. 

Additionally, in light of the dramatic humanitarian consequences of this crisis and its repercussions on regional stability and security, many Allies have already provided, and are offering, security and humanitarian assistance to Iraq on a bilateral basis.

We re-affirm NATO's continued commitment to the NATO-Iraq partnership, through which we will revitalise our effort to help Iraq build more effective security forces. That partnership encompasses, within the existing Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme, cooperation in the areas of: political dialogue; education and training; response to terrorism; defence institution building; border security; and communications strategy. 

Allies and partners should continue to help coordinate humanitarian assistance to Iraq through the appropriate channels. We welcome the role that the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre is playing. 

We have also agreed that NATO will help coordinate among Allies and partners security assistance support to Iraq; this could also include helping coordinate the provision of lift to deliver assistance. Should the Iraqi government request it, NATO will stand ready to consider measures in the framework of NATO's Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative with an eye to launching such an effort in the near term. 

NATO will support ongoing bilateral efforts of Allies and partners by soliciting and coordinating, on a voluntary basis, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets. Additionally, Allies will seek to enhance their cooperation in exchanging information on returning foreign fighters.

We continue to follow the ongoing crisis in Syria with grave concern. We condemn in the strongest terms the campaign of violence against the Syrian people by the Assad regime, which caused the current chaos and devastation in this country. 

We call on the Syrian government to fully comply with the provisions of all relevant UNSCRs and to immediately commit to a genuine political transition in accordance with the 30 June 2012 Geneva Communiqué. We believe a negotiated political transition is essential to bring an end to the bloodshed. 

We highlight the important role of the moderate opposition to protect communities against the dual threats of the Syrian regime's tyranny and ISIL's extremism. More than three years of fighting have had dramatic humanitarian consequences and a growing impact on the security of regional countries. 

Despite possible destabilising effects on their economies and societies, NATO member Turkey, our regional partner Jordan, as well as neighbouring Lebanon, are generously hosting millions of refugees and displaced Syrians. The deployment of Patriot missiles to defend the population and territory of Turkey is a strong demonstration of NATO's resolve and ability to defend and deter any potential threat against any Ally.

We welcome the successful completion by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Mission and Allies of the removal and elimination of Syria's declared chemical weapons, as called for in UNSCR 2118 and OPCW Executive Council decisions. 

NATO Allies played a key role in ensuring this success as well as in the destruction of the chemical materials themselves. We remain highly concerned by continuing reports of the use of chemicals as weapons in Syria. Twelve chemical weapon production facilities are still awaiting destruction and questions remain concerning the completeness and accuracy of Syria's chemical weapons declaration. 

We urge the Assad government to answer all outstanding questions regarding its declaration to the OPCW, to address all remaining issues, and to take action to ensure full compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, UNSCR 2118, and OPCW Executive Council decisions.

ISIL has, with its recent advance into Iraq, become a transnational threat. The Assad regime has contributed to the emergence of ISIL in Syria and its expansion beyond. ISIL's presence in both Syria and Iraq is a threat to regional stability. 

It has become a key obstacle to political settlement in Syria and a serious risk to the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq. The people of Syria and Iraq and elsewhere in the region need the support of the international community to counter this threat. A coordinated international approach is required.

We are deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and the deteriorating security situation in Libya, which threaten to undermine the goals for which the Libyan people have suffered so much and which pose a threat to the wider region. 

We urge all parties to cease all violence and engage without delay in constructive efforts aimed at fostering an inclusive political dialogue in the interest of the entire Libyan people, as part of the democratic process. Recognising the central role of the UN in coordinating international efforts in Libya, we strongly support the ongoing efforts of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to achieve an immediate ceasefire, scale down tensions, and contribute to national reconciliation. 

Our Operation Unified Protector demonstrated NATO's determination, together with regional Arab partners, to protect the Libyan people. On the basis of NATO's decision in October 2013, following a request by the Libyan authorities, we continue to stand ready to support Libya with advice on defence and security institution building and to develop a long-term partnership, possibly leading to Libya's membership in the Mediterranean Dialogue, which would be a natural framework for our cooperation.

While Mali has re-established a constitutional order, we recognise that terrorist acts and the trafficking of arms, drugs, and people across the Sahel-Sahara region threaten regional and our own security. We welcome the efforts of the UN and underscore the importance of a strong commitment by the international community to address the complex security and political challenges in this region. 

In this respect, we welcome the comprehensive Sahel strategies of the African Union and the EU. We also welcome the robust and credible military commitment of Allies in the Sahel-Sahara region, which contributes to the reaffirmation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the African countries concerned, and to the security of the Alliance. NATO is prepared to explore, upon request by the countries concerned, where it can contribute to address these challenges, in full coordination with UN, EU, regional and bilateral efforts.

In the strategically important Western Balkans region, democratic values, the rule of law, and good neighbourly relations continue to play a pivotal role in maintaining lasting peace and stability. The Alliance remains fully committed to the stability and security of the region, and we will continue to actively support the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of countries in this region. Allies and their Western Balkans partners actively contribute to the maintenance of regional and international peace, including through regional cooperation formats. 

We welcome Serbia's progress in building a stronger partnership with NATO and encourage Belgrade to continue on this path. 

We also welcome the progress achieved in Kosovo and encourage further efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law throughout a multi-ethnic Kosovo. 

The 8 June 2014 parliamentary elections were largely in line with international standards and an important milestone. 

We look forward to the expeditious formation of a representative and inclusive government, committed to the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. 

We welcome the improvement of the security situation and the progress achieved through the dialogue. We commend both parties for their commitment to the Belgrade-Pristina agreement of 19 April 2013 and encourage continued work on its full implementation.

We met yesterday in an expanded meeting on Afghanistan and, together with our International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) partners, we issued a Wales Summit Declaration on Afghanistan.

For over a decade, NATO Allies and partner nations from across the world have stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan in the largest operation in the history of the Alliance. This unprecedented effort has enhanced global security and contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women, and children. We honour the Afghan and international personnel who have lost their lives or been injured in this endeavour.

With the end of ISAF in December 2014, the nature and scope of our engagement with Afghanistan will change. We envisage three parallel, mutually reinforcing strands of activity: in the short term, NATO Allies and partner nations stand ready to continue to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) after 2014 through the non-combat Resolute Support Mission; in the medium term, we reaffirm our commitment to contribute to the financial sustainment of the ANSF; in the long term, we remain committed to strengthening NATO's partnership with Afghanistan. We count on Afghanistan's commitment and cooperation.

We recognise the particular importance of advancing regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations for the security and stability of Afghanistan. We remain determined to support the Afghan people in their efforts to build a stable, sovereign, democratic, and united country, where rule of law and good governance prevail, and in which human rights for all, especially the rights of women, including their full participation in decision making, and those of children, are fully protected. 

Working with the Government of Afghanistan and the wider international community, our goal remains to never again be threatened by terrorists from within Afghanistan. Our commitment to Afghanistan will endure.

We commend the Kosovo Force (KFOR) for the successful conduct of its mission over the past 15 years, in accordance with UNSCR 1244. KFOR will continue to contribute to a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement in Kosovo in close cooperation with the Kosovo authorities and the EU, as agreed. KFOR will also continue to support the development of a peaceful, stable and multi-ethnic Kosovo. The Alliance will continue to assist the Kosovo Security Force with advice on the ground and will keep the nature of further support under review.

We will continue to maintain KFOR's robust and credible capability to carry out its mission. Sustained improvement in the security situation and the successful implementation of agreements reached in the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will allow NATO to consider a possible change in its force posture. 

Any reduction of our troop presence will be measured against clear benchmarks and indicators, and will remain conditions-based and not calendar-driven.

Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean will continue to adapt to meet evolving security risks in an area of essential strategic interest to the Alliance. Somalia-based piracy has not been eradicated. NATO has contributed to a steady reduction in pirate activity off the coast of Somalia through Operation Ocean Shield, working in coordination with the relevant international actors, including the EU and other nations, in line with the relevant decisions taken. 

We have agreed to continue NATO's counter piracy involvement off the coast of Somalia until the end of 2016, utilising a focused presence to optimise the use of NATO assets. Both of these operations contribute to enhancing the Alliance's maritime situational awareness, interoperability, and engagement with partners.

The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territory and our populations against attack, as set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. No one should doubt NATO's resolve if the security of any of its members were to be threatened. NATO will maintain the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat to the safety and security of our populations, wherever it should arise.

Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional, and missile defence capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. The strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States, are the supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies. The independent strategic nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France have a deterrent role of their own and contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Alliance. 

The circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote.

The Allies' conventional forces make essential contributions to the deterrence of a broad range of threats. They contribute to providing visible assurance of NATO's cohesion as well as the Alliance's ability and commitment to respond to the security concerns of each and every Ally.

Missile defence can complement the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence; it cannot substitute for them. The capability is purely defensive.

Arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation continue to play an important role in the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives. Both the success and failure of these efforts can have a direct impact on the threat environment of NATO. 

In this context, it is of paramount importance that disarmament and non-proliferation commitments under existing treaties are honoured, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which is a crucial element of Euro-Atlantic security. 

In that regard, Allies call on Russia to preserve the viability of the INF Treaty through ensuring full and verifiable compliance.

The threat to NATO populations, territory, and forces posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles continues to increase and missile defence forms part of a broader response to counter it. At our Summit in Lisbon in 2010 we decided to develop a NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) capability to pursue our core task of collective defence. Missile defence will become an integral part of the Alliance's overall defence posture and contribute to the indivisible security of the Alliance.

The aim of this capability is to provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory, and forces against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles, based on the principles of indivisibility of Allies' security and NATO solidarity, equitable sharing of risks and burdens, as well as reasonable challenge, taking into account the level of threat, affordability, and technical feasibility, and in accordance with the latest common threat assessments agreed by the Alliance. Should international efforts reduce the threats posed by ballistic missile proliferation, NATO missile defence can and will adapt accordingly.

At our Summit in Chicago in 2012, we declared the achievement of an Interim NATO BMD Capability as an operationally significant first step, offering maximum coverage, within available means, to defend our populations, territory, and forces across southern NATO Europe against a ballistic missile attack. NATO Interim BMD is operationally capable.

Today we are pleased to note that the deployment of Aegis Ashore in Deveselu, Romania is on track to be completed in the 2015 timeframe. Aegis Ashore will be offered to NATO and will provide a significant increase in NATO BMD capability. We are also pleased to note the forward deployment of BMD-capable Aegis ships to Rota, Spain. Building on the Interim Capability, the additional Aegis BMD-capable ships could be made available to NATO.

Today we are also pleased to note that additional voluntary national contributions have been offered, and that several Allies are developing, including through multinational cooperation, or are acquiring further BMD capabilities that could become available to the Alliance. 

Our aim remains to provide the Alliance with a NATO operational BMD that can provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory, and forces, based on voluntary national contributions, including nationally funded interceptors and sensors, hosting arrangements, and on the expansion of the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) capability. Only the command and control systems of ALTBMD and their expansion to territorial defence are eligible for common funding.

We note the potential opportunities for cooperation on missile defence, and encourage Allies to explore possible additional voluntary national contributions, including through multinational cooperation, to provide relevant capabilities, as well as to use potential synergies in planning, development, procurement, and deployment. We also note that BMD features in two Smart Defence projects.

As with all of NATO's operations, full political control by Allies over military actions undertaken pursuant to this capability will be ensured. To this end, we will continue to deepen political oversight of NATO BMD as the capability develops. 

We welcome the completion of the Alliance's review of the arrangements for NATO Interim BMD Capability and note that the Alliance will be ready to make use of additional Allied contributions as they are made available to the Alliance. We also task the Council to regularly review the implementation of the NATO BMD capability, including before the Foreign and Defence Ministers' meetings, and prepare a comprehensive report on progress and issues to be addressed for its future development by our next Summit.

We remain prepared to engage with third states, on a case-by-case basis, to enhance transparency and confidence and to increase ballistic missile defence effectiveness. Initial steps have been made and could lead to various forms of engagement with third states on missile defence. As we did in Chicago in 2012, we reaffirm that NATO missile defence is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia's strategic deterrence capabilities. NATO missile defence is intended to defend against potential threats emanating from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

The Alliance reaffirms its long-standing commitment to conventional arms control as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security and emphasises the importance of full implementation and compliance to rebuild trust and confidence. 

Russia's unilateral military activity in and around Ukraine has undermined peace, security, and stability across the region, and its selective implementation of the Vienna Document and Open Skies Treaty and long-standing non-implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) have eroded the positive contributions of these arms control instruments. 

Allies call on Russia to fully adhere to its commitments. Allies are determined to preserve, strengthen, and modernise conventional arms control in Europe, based on key principles and commitments, including reciprocity, transparency, and host nation consent.

At our last Summit in Chicago we set ourselves the ambitious goal of NATO Forces 2020: modern, tightly connected forces equipped, trained, exercised, and commanded so as to be able to meet NATO's Level of Ambition and so that they can operate together and with partners in any environment. We judge that the goal remains valid and reaffirm our commitment to delivering it. The Readiness Action Plan complements and reinforces NATO Forces 2020 by improving our overall readiness and responsiveness.

NATO needs, now more than ever, modern, robust, and capable forces at high readiness, in the air, on land and at sea, in order to meet current and future challenges

We are committed to further enhancing our capabilities. To this end, today we have agreed a Defence Planning Package with a number of priorities, such as enhancing and reinforcing training and exercises; command and control, including for demanding air operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; NATO's ballistic missile defence capability, in accordance with the decisions taken at the 2010 Lisbon and 2012 Chicago Summits, including the voluntary nature of national contributions; cyber defence; as well as improving the robustness and readiness of our land forces for both collective defence and crisis response

Fulfilment of these priorities will increase the Alliance's collective capabilities and better prepare NATO to address current and future threats and challenges. We have agreed this Package in order to inform our defence investments and to improve the capabilities that Allies have in national inventories. In this context, NATO joint air power capabilities require longer-term consideration.

We continue to emphasise multinational cooperation. Following the Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR) initiative launched at our Chicago Summit, work is on track to deliver an initial operational capability to support NATO operations and NATO Response Force rotations from 2016 onwards. 

In this context, we note the progress in the development of the Alliance Ground Surveillance capability that will become available for operational deployment in 2017. Furthermore, NATO's Airborne Early Warning and Control Force will continue to be modernised to maintain its full operational capability. JISR exemplifies the advantages of multinational cooperation in capability development and employment among Allies, which allow for significant operational and cost benefits. 

In this spirit, several Allies are establishing a multinational MQ-9 remotely-piloted air system users group, in particular to enhance interoperability and reduce overall costs.

In a similar vein, we highlight the fact that, since we launched the Smart Defence initiative at our Chicago Summit, an ever growing number of multinational projects have been set up to help Allies harmonise requirements, pool resources, and achieve tangible benefits in terms of operational effectiveness as well as cost efficiency. 

We are building on this positive momentum, in particular to address Alliance priority capability requirements. Specifically, two groups of Allies have agreed to work on, respectively, increasing the availability of air-to-ground Precision Guided Munitions, and on the provision of a deployable airbase capability, and have signed Letters of Intent to this effect. 

A further two groups of Allies have decided to establish concrete projects for improving JISR information exchange in operations and ballistic missile defence, including naval training.

Today we have also endorsed the NATO Framework Nations Concept. It focuses on groups of Allies coming together to work multinationally for the joint development of forces and capabilities required by the Alliance, facilitated by a framework nation. Its implementation will contribute to providing the Alliance with coherent sets of forces and capabilities, particularly in Europe. 

It will help demonstrate European Allies' willingness to do more for our common security and also improve the balance of the provision of capabilities between the United States and European Allies as well as among European Allies themselves. 

To implement this concept, today, a group of ten Allies, facilitated by Germany as a framework nation and focusing on capability development, have, through a joint letter, committed to working systematically together, deepening and intensifying their cooperation in the long term, to create, in various configurations, a number of multinational projects to address Alliance priority areas across a broad spectrum of capabilities. 

They will initially concentrate on creating coherent sets of capabilities in the areas of logistics support; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protection; delivering fire-power from land, air, and sea; and deployable headquarters. Another group of seven Allies, facilitated by the United Kingdom as a framework nation, have also agreed today to establish the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a rapidly deployable force capable of conducting the full spectrum of operations, including high intensity operations. 

The JEF will facilitate the efficient deployment of existing and emerging military capabilities and units. Additionally, a group of six Allies, facilitated by Italy as a framework nation and based on regional ties, will focus on improving a number of Alliance capability areas, such as stabilisation and reconstruction, provision of enablers, usability of land formations, and command and control. Other groupings are being developed in line with the Framework Nations Concept.

Two Allies have announced their intention to establish a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, to be delivered from 2016 and to be available for the full spectrum of operations, including at high intensity.

We continue to build on the experience gained in recent operations and improve our interoperability through the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI). Today we have endorsed a substantial CFI Package consisting of six key deliverables, including the high-visibility exercise Trident Juncture 2015, with 25,000 personnel to be hosted by Spain, Portugal, and Italy; a broader and more demanding exercise programme from 2016 onwards; and a deployable Special Operations Component Command headquarters. 

As a key component in delivering NATO Forces 2020, the CFI addresses the full range of missions, including the most demanding, thereby demonstrating the continued cohesion and resolve of the Alliance. It provides the structure for Allies to train and exercise coherently; reinforces full-spectrum joint and combined training; promotes interoperability, including with partners; and leverages advances in technology, such as the Federated Mission Networking framework, which will enhance information sharing in the Alliance and with partners in support of training, exercises and operations.

In this context, NATO will continue to work closely with the EU, as agreed, to ensure that our Smart Defence and the EU's Pooling and Sharing initiatives are complementary and mutually reinforcing, and to support capability development and interoperability with a view to avoiding unnecessary duplication and maximising cost- effectiveness. 

We welcome the efforts of NATO nations and EU member states, in particular in the areas of strategic airlift and air-to-air refuelling, medical support, maritime surveillance, satellite communication, and training, as well as efforts of several nations in the area of remotely piloted aircraft systems. We also welcome the national efforts in these and other areas by European Allies and partners, which will benefit both organisations. 

The success of our efforts will continue to depend on mutual transparency and openness between the two organisations. We encourage making the fullest use of existing NATO-EU mechanisms to this effect.

The geopolitical and economic importance of the maritime domain in the 21st century continues to grow. NATO needs to adapt to a complex, more crowded, rapidly evolving, and increasingly unpredictable maritime security environment. 

This necessitates a strengthening of the Alliance's maritime capabilities, which should not be seen in isolation but as an integral part of NATO's larger toolbox to safeguard the Alliance's interests. We will therefore continue to intensify and expand our implementation of the Alliance Maritime Strategy, further enhancing the Alliance's effectiveness in the maritime domain and its contributions to deterrence and collective defence, crisis management, cooperative security, and maritime security. 

We will reinvigorate NATO's Standing Naval Forces by making their composition and the duration of national contributions more flexible and, in principle, no longer using them for protracted operations or for operations with low-end tasks. In addition, we will enhance their education, training, and exercise value, especially at the high end of the spectrum. 

We will also investigate ways to enhance further the effectiveness of the full range of Alliance maritime capabilities. Greater co-ordination, cooperation, and complementarity with relevant international organisations, including the EU, in line with the relevant decisions taken, as well as work with partner and non-partner nations, will be an important element of the implementation of the Alliance Maritime Strategy. 

We welcome the adoption of the EU's Maritime Security Strategy in June 2014, which will potentially contribute to the security of all Allies.

As the Alliance looks to the future, cyber threats and attacks will continue to become more common, sophisticated, and potentially damaging. To face this evolving challenge, we have endorsed an Enhanced Cyber Defence Policy, contributing to the fulfillment of the Alliance's core tasks. 

The policy reaffirms the principles of the indivisibility of Allied security and of prevention, detection, resilience, recovery, and defence. It recalls that the fundamental cyber defence responsibility of NATO is to defend its own networks, and that assistance to Allies should be addressed in accordance with the spirit of solidarity, emphasizing the responsibility of Allies to develop the relevant capabilities for the protection of national networks. 

Our policy also recognises that international law, including international humanitarian law and the UN Charter, applies in cyberspace. Cyber attacks can reach a threshold that threatens national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security, and stability. Their impact could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack. We affirm therefore that cyber defence is part of NATO's core task of collective defence. A decision as to when a cyber attack would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis.

We are committed to developing further our national cyber defence capabilities, and we will enhance the cyber security of national networks upon which NATO depends for its core tasks, in order to help make the Alliance resilient and fully protected. 

Close bilateral and multinational cooperation plays a key role in enhancing the cyber defence capabilities of the Alliance. We will continue to integrate cyber defence into NATO operations and operational and contingency planning, and enhance information sharing and situational awareness among Allies. Strong partnerships play a key role in addressing cyber threats and risks. 

We will therefore continue to engage actively on cyber issues with relevant partner nations on a case-by-case basis and with other international organisations, including the EU, as agreed, and will intensify our cooperation with industry through a NATO Industry Cyber Partnership

Technological innovations and expertise from the private sector are crucial to enable NATO and Allies to achieve the Enhanced Cyber Defence Policy's objectives

We will improve the level of NATO's cyber defence education, training, and exercise activities. We will develop the NATO cyber range capability, building, as a first step, on the Estonian cyber range capability, while taking into consideration the capabilities and requirements of the NATO CIS School and other NATO training and education bodies.

NATO recognises the importance of inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and globally competitive defence industries, which include small and medium-sized enterprises, to develop and sustain national defence capabilities and the defence technological and industrial base in the whole of Europe and in North America.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as well as their means of delivery, by states and non-state actors continues to present a threat to our populations, territory, and forces. 

The Alliance is resolved to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in accordance with the goals of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in a way that promotes international stability and is based on the principle of undiminished security for all. Addressing serious proliferation challenges remains an urgent international priority.

We call on Iran to seize the opportunity of the extension of the Joint Plan of Action until 24 November 2014 to make the strategic choices that will restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme. 

We continue to call on Iran to comply fully with all its international obligations, including all relevant Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors. We also underscore the importance of Iran's cooperation with the IAEA to resolve all outstanding issues, in particular those related to possible military dimensions of its nuclear programme.

We are deeply concerned by the nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes and proliferation activities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and call on it to comply fully with all relevant UNSCRs and the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. 

We call on the DPRK to abandon all its existing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner and immediately cease all related activities. We strongly condemn the DPRK's December 2012 launch, which used ballistic missile technology, the nuclear test carried out by the DPRK in February 2013, and the various launches of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles since February 2014. We call on the DPRK to refrain from any further nuclear tests, launches using ballistic missile technology, or other provocations.

The upcoming 2015 NPT Review Conference is an opportunity for parties to reaffirm support for this Treaty and for its non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses pillars. Allies support efforts towards the success of this conference. We call for universal adherence to, and compliance with, the NPT and the Additional Protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement and call for full implementation of UNSCR 1540 and welcome further work under UNSCR 1977. 

We call on all states to commit to combating effectively the proliferation of WMD through the universalisation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and through the Proliferation Security Initiative. We also call on all States to continue strengthening the security of nuclear materials and of radioactive sources within their borders, as they were called on to do by the Nuclear Security Summits of 2010 (Washington), 2012 (Seoul), and 2014 (The Hague). 

We will also ensure that NATO is postured to counter Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) threats, including through the Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force.

Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of the citizens of NATO countries and to international stability and prosperity more broadly, and will remain a threat for the foreseeable future. It is a global threat that knows no border, nationality, or religion – a challenge that the international community must fight and tackle together. 

We reaffirm our commitment to fight terrorism with unwavering resolve in accordance with international law and the principles of the UN Charter. NATO Allies are exposed to a wide range of terrorist threats. NATO has a role to play, including through our military cooperation with partners to build their capacity to face such threats, and through enhanced information sharing. 

Without prejudice to national legislation or responsibilities, the Alliance strives at all times to remain aware of the evolving threat from terrorism; to ensure that it has adequate capabilities to prevent, protect against, and respond to terrorist threats; and to engage with partners and other international organisations, as appropriate, promoting common understanding and practical cooperation in support of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, including in areas such as Explosive Risk Management. Building on our Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work, we will continue to improve our capabilities and technologies, including to defend against Improvised Explosive Devices and CBRN threats. We will keep terrorism and related threats high on NATO's security agenda.

NATO Allies form a unique community of values, committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The Alliance is convinced that these shared values and our security are strengthened when we work with our wide network of partners around the globe. 

We will continue to engage actively to enhance international security through partnership with relevant countries and other international organisations, in accordance with our Berlin Partnership Policy.

Partnerships are, and will continue to be, essential to the way NATO works. Partners have served with us in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and other operations, sacrificing alongside Alliance troops, and work with us in combating terrorism and piracy. Partners make significant contributions to our practical cooperation activities in a number of different areas, including Trust Funds. 

Together with our partners, we have built a broad cooperative security network. Allies are resolved to maintain and build on this legacy, as our partnerships play a crucial role in the promotion of international peace and security. 

At this Summit, we therefore collectively pledge to strengthen the political dialogue and practical cooperation with our partners who share our vision for cooperative security in an international order based on the rule of law. We will continue to build defence capacity and interoperability through such initiatives as the Defence Education Enhancement Programme and the Professional Development Programme. 

We will also continue to promote transparency, accountability, and integrity in the defence sectors of interested nations through the Building Integrity programme.

This year we celebrate twenty years of the Partnership for Peace (PfP). PfP and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council are, and will continue to be, a part of our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. 

They have forged political ties across Europe, through the Caucasus and into Central Asia; they have also been the foundation for practical cooperation to address common threats to our shared security, including in the field of human security. 

This cooperation was driven, at heart, by the common values and principles to which Allies and partners have all committed in the PfP founding documents. They include the promise to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, to respect internationally recognised borders, and to settle disputes by peaceful means. 

These principles are as important as ever today and must be upheld unequivocally across the Euro-Atlantic community.

We reaffirm our commitment to the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) and the principles that underpin them; MD and ICI remain two complementary yet distinct partnership frameworks. 

We look forward to deepening our political dialogue and practical cooperation in both fora, building on many years of steady progress. We remain open to welcoming new members from the Mediterranean and the broader Middle East region to these frameworks.

This year we also celebrate twenty years of the Mediterranean Dialogue. Today, as the Mediterranean region faces huge security challenges with wide-ranging implications for Euro-Atlantic security, the importance of this forum, which brings together key countries from NATO's southern border, is clearer than ever. 

Enhancing the political dimension of MD will help to address the challenges of the region. We stand ready to continue working with our MD partners to make the most of the opportunities offered by their partnership with NATO, including individual partnership and cooperation programmes.

We also celebrate ten years of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, which has helped to promote understanding and security cooperation with our partners in the Gulf region. 

We encourage our ICI partner countries to be proactive in taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by their partnership with NATO, including individual partnership and cooperation programmes.

We will also intensify efforts to engage with and reach out to those partners across the globe that can contribute significantly to addressing shared security concerns. 

The Berlin Partnership Policy has created increased opportunities for these countries to work individually with NATO at the political and practical level. We welcome that some of our partners across the globe have seized these opportunities by providing support to operations and engaging in security cooperation and dialogue to enhance common understanding of our shared security interests.

We will likewise look to further develop relations with relevant regional international organisations, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, and be open to engaging with others, including in the context of regional crisis situations.

As combat operations end in Afghanistan, we will ensure that the bonds forged between Allied and partner nations' armed forces remain as strong as ever. 
We have fought together. Now we will focus on preparing and training together. We have therefore adopted a comprehensive Partnership Interoperability Initiative to enhance our ability to tackle security challenges together with our partners. 

Here in Wales, our Defence Ministers launched the Interoperability Platform, meeting with 24 partners 1 that have demonstrated their commitment to reinforce their interoperability with NATO. 

These partners have been invited to work with us to take forward dialogue and practical cooperation on interoperability issues. Defence Ministers also met with five partners 2 that make particularly significant contributions to NATO operations to discuss further deepening dialogue and practical cooperation as part of the enhanced opportunities within the Partnership Interoperability Initiative. 

We stand ready to consider the addition of other partners as their contributions and interests warrant.

Today we have decided to launch a Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative to reinforce our commitment to partner nations and to help the Alliance to project stability without deploying large combat forces, as part of the Alliance's overall contribution to international security and stability and conflict prevention. 

The Initiative builds upon NATO's extensive expertise in supporting, advising and assisting nations with defence and related security capacity building. Building on our close cooperation and following their requests, we have agreed to extend this initiative to Georgia, Jordan, and the Republic of Moldova. 

We are also ready to consider requests from interested partners and non-partners, as well as to engage with international and regional organisations, with an interest in building their defence and related security capacity through this demand-driven initiative. 

We reaffirm NATO's readiness to provide defence and related security capacity advisory support for Libya when conditions permit. We will pursue these efforts in complementarity and close cooperation with other international organisations, in particular the UN, the EU, and the OSCE, as appropriate. Some partner nations themselves can bring unique partner insight and contributions to NATO capacity building efforts. 

We welcome the appointment of NATO's Deputy Secretary General as Special Coordinator for Defence Capacity Building, as well as the establishment of a military hub in the NATO Command Structure, to help ensure a timely, coherent and effective NATO response, taking into account efforts by partners and individual Allies, on a voluntary basis.

We attach great importance to ensuring women's full and active participation in the prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts, as well as in post-conflict efforts and cooperation. 

We remain committed to preventing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. Since our last Summit in Chicago, we have made significant progress in implementing UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and related resolutions. We are now implementing the results of the Review of the Practical Implications of UNSCR 1325 for the Conduct of Operations. 

A revised Policy and Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security have been developed with our partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and with other partners 3. The establishment of a permanent position of NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security underscores the Alliance's active engagement and commitment to this agenda. 

NATO's cooperation with partner nations, international organisations, and civil society has been strengthened and should be further enhanced. Our ongoing efforts to integrate gender perspectives into Alliance activities throughout NATO's three core tasks will contribute to a more modern, ready, and responsive NATO. We have directed the Council to submit a progress report on NATO's implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions for our next Summit.

We recall NATO's firm commitment to the implementation of UNSCR 1612 and related resolutions on the protection of children affected by armed conflict and remain deeply concerned about the damaging effects of armed conflicts on children. 

NATO will continue to carry out its responsibilities as part of the wider international effort and to build on initiatives already taken to properly integrate this issue into the planning and conduct of its operations and missions, as well as its training, monitoring, and reporting. Therefore, in close cooperation with the UN, NATO will assess how to ensure it is sufficiently prepared whenever and wherever the issue of Children and Armed Conflict is likely to be encountered.

The Open Door Policy under Article 10 of the Washington Treaty is one of the Alliance's great successes. Successive rounds of NATO enlargement have enhanced the security and stability of all our nations. The steady progress of Euro-Atlantic integration fosters reform, strengthens collective security, and ensures the stability necessary for prosperity. 

NATO's door will remain open to all European democracies which share the values of our Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, which are in a position to further the principles of the Treaty, and whose inclusion will contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration of the partners that aspire to join the Alliance, judging each on its own merits. 

Decisions on enlargement are for NATO itself. We encourage partners to continue to implement the necessary reforms and decisions to advance their aspirations and prepare for membership, and we will continue to offer political and practical support to their efforts. Today we have endorsed decisions that take forward our Open Door Policy based on progress by individual partners that aspire to join the Alliance.

NATO recognises Georgia's significant efforts to strengthen its democracy and to modernise its military forces and defence institutions. We welcome the democratic development of Georgia, including through the peaceful transfer of power following parliamentary and presidential elections in 2012 and 2013, respectively. 

We encourage Georgia to continue implementation of reforms, including consolidating democratic institutions, taking forward judicial reforms, and ensuring full respect for the rule of law. 

NATO highly appreciates Georgia's sizeable contribution to the ISAF operation and recognises the sacrifices Georgian troops have made in Afghanistan. Together with Georgia's offer to participate in the NATO Response Force, these contributions demonstrate Georgia's role as a contributor to our shared security. 

At the 2008 Bucharest Summit we agreed that Georgia will become a member of NATO and we reaffirm all elements of that decision, as well as subsequent decisions. Since then, Georgia has made significant progress and has come closer to NATO by implementing ambitious reforms and making good use of the NATO-Georgia Commission and Annual National Programme. 

We note that Georgia's relationship with the Alliance contains the tools necessary to continue moving Georgia forward towards eventual membership. Today we have endorsed a substantial package for Georgia that includes defence capacity building, training, exercises, strengthened liaison, and enhanced interoperability opportunities. 

These measures aim to strengthen Georgia's defence and interoperability capabilities with the Alliance, which will help Georgia advance in its preparations towards membership in the Alliance.

We reiterate our continued support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. We welcome Georgia's full compliance with the EU-mediated cease-fire agreement and other multilateral measures to build confidence. 

We welcome Georgia's commitment not to use force and call on Russia to reciprocate. We continue to call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states and to withdraw its forces from Georgia. 

We encourage all participants in the Geneva talks to play a constructive role as well as to continue working closely with the OSCE, the UN, and the EU to pursue peaceful conflict resolution in the internationally recognised territory of Georgia.

We welcome the significant progress made by Montenegro in its reforms, its constructive role in the Western Balkans region and the contribution that it makes to international security, including its contribution to our engagement in Afghanistan. In recognition of Montenegro's progress towards NATO membership, the Alliance has agreed to open intensified and focused talks with Montenegro, and agreed that Foreign Ministers will assess Montenegro's progress no later than by the end of 2015 with a view to deciding on whether to invite Montenegro to join the Alliance. 

These talks will be conducted in conjunction with the Membership Action Plan (MAP) process. In the meantime, we look to Montenegro to continue its efforts to address the remaining challenges, particularly with respect to rule of law and completing security sector reform. We also welcome the increase in public support in Montenegro for NATO membership and encourage continued efforts in this area.

We reiterate the agreement at our 2008 Bucharest Summit, as we did at subsequent Summits, to extend an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 4 to join the Alliance as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached within the framework of the UN, and strongly urge intensified efforts towards that end. 

An early solution, and subsequent membership, will contribute to security and stability in the region. We encourage and support the continuation of reform efforts within the country, particularly with a view to ensuring effective democratic dialogue, media freedom, judicial independence, and a fully-functioning multi-ethnic society based on full implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. 

We also encourage further efforts to develop good neighbourly relations. We appreciate the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's long-standing contribution to our operations and its active role in regional cooperation. We value the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's long-standing commitment to the NATO accession process.

We continue to fully support the membership aspirations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We look forward to free and fair general elections in October, which we hope will lead to an efficient and effective government coalition, ready to address the issues related to the country's Euro-Atlantic aspirations. 

We acknowledge the efforts undertaken since 2012 to come to a political agreement on registering the immovable defence property to the state. We remain concerned that little progress has been achieved to comply with the condition set by NATO Foreign Ministers in Tallinn in April 2010. 

As Allied Foreign Ministers will keep developments under active review, we encourage the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take the necessary steps in that regard so that its first MAP cycle can be activated as soon as possible. We appreciate Bosnia and Herzegovina's contributions to NATO-led operations, and we commend its constructive role in regional dialogue and security.

Here in Wales, our Foreign Ministers have met their counterparts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Ministers discussed the progress made by these countries, the Euro-Atlantic integration process, and other key Summit issues, including the international security situation. NATO is grateful to these partners for the significant contributions that they continue to make to NATO's objectives and to international security and stability.

In light of NATO's operational experiences and the evolving complex security environment, a comprehensive political, civilian, and military approach is essential in crisis management and cooperative security. Furthermore, it contributes to the effectiveness of our common security and defence, without prejudice to Alliance collective defence commitments. 

Today we reaffirm our decisions taken at the Lisbon and Chicago Summits. The comprehensive approach is conducive to more coherence within NATO's own structures and activities. Furthermore, NATO has developed a modest but appropriate civilian capability in line with Lisbon Summit decisions. 

As part of NATO's contribution to a comprehensive approach by the international community, we will enhance cooperation with partner nations and other actors, including other international organisations, such as the UN, the EU and the OSCE, as well as non-governmental organisations, in line with decisions taken. 

We will ensure that comprehensive approach-related lessons learned, including from ISAF, will be carried forward and applied in various strands of work and new initiatives, including, as appropriate, the Readiness Action Plan, the Connected Forces Initiative, the Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative, and the Partnership Interoperability Initiative.

In the spirit of the comprehensive approach and in light of a changing security environment in Europe, our Foreign Ministers met with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to discuss closer cooperation. 

At a time when the values and principles that underpin the major institutions in the Euro-Atlantic area are being challenged, Allies emphasised the need to work together to ensure our shared goal of a Europe whole, free and at peace. We look forward to continuing the dialogue to advance this further.
NATO's cooperation with the United Nations (UN) strengthens international security. 

We welcome our regular political dialogue on areas of common interest. We are encouraged by the growing practical cooperation between the staffs of our organisations, including exchanges of best practices and lessons learned in operations, training and exercises, and sharing of expertise. 

We are committed to exploring ways to reinforce our practical support to UN peace operations, including by enhancing cooperation between NATO and the UN in building defence and related security capacity.

The European Union (EU) remains a unique and essential partner for NATO. The two organisations share common values and strategic interests. In a spirit of full mutual openness, transparency, complementarity, and respect for the autonomy and institutional integrity of both NATO and the EU, and as agreed by the two organisations, we will continue to work side-by-side in crisis management operations, broaden political consultations, and promote complementarity of the two organisations to enhance common security and stability. 

The current strategic environment has highlighted the need for further strengthening our strategic partnership and reinforcing our joint efforts and our common message.

NATO recognises the importance of a stronger and more capable European defence, which will lead to a stronger NATO, help enhance the security of all Allies and foster an equitable sharing of the burden, benefits and responsibilities of Alliance membership. 

In this context, we welcome the EU member states' decisions to strengthen European defence and crisis management, including at the European Council in December 2013.

We look forward to continued dialogue and cooperation between NATO and the EU. Our consultations have broadened to address issues of common concern, including security challenges like cyber defence, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, counter-terrorism, and energy security. 

We will also seek to work more closely together in several other areas, including maritime security, defence and related security capacity building, and addressing hybrid threats, in line with decisions taken.

Non-EU Allies continue to make significant contributions to the EU's efforts to strengthen its capacities to address common security challenges. For the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU, non-EU Allies' fullest involvement in these efforts is essential. We encourage further mutual steps in this area to support a strengthened strategic partnership.

We welcome the Secretary General's report on NATO-EU relations. We encourage him to continue to work closely with the EU High Representative and the leaders of other EU institutions across the broad spectrum of the NATO-EU strategic partnership and provide a report to the Council in time for the next Summit.

As demonstrated most recently by its activities in the framework of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) plays an important role in addressing the security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic area. 

We fully support efforts undertaken by the OSCE and continue to work closely with the OSCE in areas such as conflict prevention and resolution, post conflict rehabilitation and in addressing new security threats. We are committed to further enhancing our cooperation, both at the political and operational level, in all areas of common interest.

We welcome the increasing emphasis by the African Union (AU) on addressing transnational security threats, and its growing efforts to build the African capacity to rapidly respond to emerging conflicts. We encourage deeper political and practical cooperation between NATO and the AU to support the African Union in establishing a more robust African peace and security capacity. Based on the AU's request, NATO will continue to provide technical support and stands ready to explore, in consultation with the AU, opportunities to expand our logistical, training, and planning assistance in support of African peacekeepers

We welcome the recent progress in establishing a sound legal framework for NATO-AU cooperation.

A stable and reliable energy supply, the diversification of routes, suppliers and energy resources, and the interconnectivity of energy networks remain of critical importance. While these issues are primarily the responsibility of national governments and other international organisations, NATO closely follows relevant developments in energy security, including in relation to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the growing instability in the Middle East and North Africa region

We will continue to consult on and further develop our capacity to contribute to energy security, concentrating on areas where NATO can add value. In particular, we will enhance our awareness of energy developments with security implications for Allies and the Alliance; further develop NATO's competence in supporting the protection of critical energy infrastructure; and continue to work towards significantly improving the energy efficiency of our military forces, and in this regard we note the Green Defence Framework. 

We will also enhance training and education efforts, continue to engage with partner countries, on a case-by-case basis, and consult with relevant international organisations, including the EU, as appropriate. 

Today we have noted a progress report on NATO's role in energy security and we task the Council to continue to refine NATO's role in energy security in accordance with the principles and guidelines agreed at the Bucharest Summit and the direction provided by subsequent Summits and the Strategic Concept. 

We task the Council to produce a further progress report for our next Summit.
Key environmental and resource constraints, including health risks, climate change, water scarcity, and increasing energy needs will further shape the future security environment in areas of concern to NATO and have the potential to significantly affect NATO planning and operations.

At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, Allies agreed on an ambitious reform programme, encompassing reviews of the Agencies and NATO Command Structure; resource reform; Headquarters reform; and an end-to-end review of all structures engaged in NATO capability development. 

Heads of State and Government took stock of progress at the 2012 Chicago Summit. Since then, NATO has continued to reform by instituting new policies, overhauling its structures, and streamlining procedures to improve efficiency and to ensure our Alliance is responsive and agile against the diverse challenges and threats it faces.

NATO has adapted to drive further financial reform, harnessed the best efforts of our International Staff and International Military Staff, developed its NATO Command Structure, and achieved a greater level of coherence between its Agencies. 

While significant progress has been made in the reform of the Alliance, ongoing initiatives still need to be fully delivered and further efforts will be required. We have tasked further work in the areas of delivery of common funded capabilities, reform governance and transparency and accountability, especially in the management of NATO's financial resources. We look forward to a further report on progress on these reforms by the time of our next Summit.

We express our appreciation for the generous hospitality extended to us by the Government of the United Kingdom and the people of Wales. The decisions we have taken at our Summit will help to keep our nations and populations safe, the bond between Europe and North America strong, and our region and the world stable. We will meet again in Poland in 2016.