Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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North Atlantic Treaty (4 April 1949)

Collective security treaty that served as the basis of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C., on 4 April 1949 by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The treaty was a seminal event in the Cold War because it provided for the eventual militarization of the containment policy and the Cold War and was soon followed by the Soviet bloc's creation of the rival Warsaw Pact. The treaty was also the first permanent peacetime alliance that the United States had ever concluded, a major break with the long-established isolationist U.S. foreign policy tradition. Still, the treaty adhered to the United Nations (UN) Charter and upheld the principles of democracy, liberty, and the rule of law. The self-defense and collective security agreement provided that all signatories desired to live in peace and security within the North Atlantic area. If one nation were attacked, all signatory nations would endeavor to maintain the peace and security of the other nations. The treaty came into force on 24 August 1949 and consisted of fourteen articles.

Article 1 simply stated that the treaty was in accord with the UN Charter and that international disputes were to be settled peacefully. Article 2 asserted that "free institutions" were to develop cooperative economic arrangements and prevent economic conflict among the twelve signatory nations. Article 3 held that to pursue the objectives of the treaty it was necessary to adopt and maintain measures to repel "armed attack." Article 4 stipulated that signatories would consult with one another if the "territorial integrity, political independence or internal security" of any were threatened. Article 5 stated that if one or more of the signatory nations came under "armed attack," such attack would be deemed an attack upon all nations of the treaty, recognized pursuant to Article 51 of the UN Charter. Article 6 qualified Article 5 by stating that an attack on one or several nations or on the military and their equipment wherever stationed constituted an attack on the territory of the signatory nations.

Article 7 held that the role of the UN Security Council to maintain international security was not to be undermined and that the rights of UN members were not to be affected. Article 8 declared that the treaty did not conflict with previous international agreements. Article 9 established a NATO Council to meet upon request and to establish a defense committee to ensure the implementation of Articles 3 and 5. Article 10 stated that other European nations could accede to the treaty with the unanimous agreement of the signatory nations. Article 11 declared that ratification would be undertaken within each member nation and that the treaty would be in force when the majority of signatories ratified it. Article 12 stipulated that a treaty review could take place after ten years. Article 13 maintained that once the treaty had been in force for twenty years, nations could leave the organization providing they gave one year's notice to the U.S. government. Article 14 declared that the treaty was to be written in English and French and was to be deposited with the U.S. government.

Dewi I. Ball

Further Reading
Reynolds, David, ed. The Origins of the Cold War in Europe: International Perspectives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.

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