chapter  4
15 Pages

The origins of the 1979 dual track decision – a survey


The modernization of NATO’s Long-Range Theater Nuclear Forces (LRTNF) was one of the crucial steps in the re-intensification of the Cold War at the end of the 1970s. Together with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the 1979 NATO dual track decision, which accepted the Alliance’s modernization program and led to the deployment in Western Europe of 464 US ‘Gryphon’ cruise missiles and 108 ‘Pershing II’ Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs), marked the culminating moment in the crisis of détente. This chapter will discuss and elucidate the origins of the 1979 decision by assessing the broad range of factors that lay behind it, with special attention to the complex interplay between the US and its European allies in the decision-making process of the Atlantic Alliance.