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A description of NATO's security pact and Article 4

WASHINGTON—The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created after World War II to promote stability in northern Europe among 12 original members and to provide collective security in case of war with the Soviet Union. NATO now has 19 member countries. Turkey was admitted in 1952.

The NATO treaty was signed in April 1949. The document's 14 articles and preamble call for peaceful resolutions of disputes, the use of armed forces for "collective self-defense" and other obligations.

Article 4 of the NATO treaty states: The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

Basically this means that the NATO signatories will consult with each other when a member is threatened. All decisions on NATO action must be made by consensus, meaning all members agree to the action.

Germany, France and Belgium invoked Article 4 Monday in vetoing a U.S.-backed measure to authorize NATO to protect Turkey in the event of an Iraqi attack.

It is the first time in the treaty's 53 years that a member has publicly invoked Article 4.


(Compiled by Knight Ridder Newspapers researcher Tish Wells. Sources: United Nations, Yale University, U.S. Department of State.)


For more information:

United Nations:


Federation of American Scientists, Iraq weapons guide:


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.