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Iain Duncan Smith: NATO is about mutual defence. So is missile defence.

Speech to British American Inc, at the Radisson SAS Portman Hotel in London

"One of the most dangerous developments since 11th September last year is the way that Europe and the United States seem to have been drifting apart. Dictators like Saddam Hussein must be delighted when they see splits between Washington and the capital cities of Europe.

"This is happening, not just because Europe is so militarily weak. Many European governments appear more preoccupied with dreams of constructing the post-Cold War Europe, rather than with the realities of the world beyond.

"NATO is under threat from the EU. Some are pressing for the new EU constitution to take over more and more of NATO's powers and functions. Some are pressing for the EU to adopt the same mutual defence pact, that is currently NATO's core purpose. What future has NATO if the EU continues to take over more and more of NATO's key functions, even its founding principle?

"Yes, Europe should certainly do more for its own defence, but the EU does not have that in mind. Overall, defence spending in the EU is still falling. The last thing that Americans should want is a militarily week EU which nevertheless duplicates NATO structures, discriminates against non-EU members of NATO and decouples European security from the Atlantic Alliance. The European Security and Defence Policy now hangs like a Sword of Damacles over NATO supremacy in Europe.

"This week's, NATO summit in Prague is a chance to set things straight. The US missile defence agenda is exactly the kind of challenge that NATO should take up. NATO is about mutual defence. So is missile defence. Here is a real chance for NATO to be the vehicle to protect homes and families in both North America and Europe. To make global missile defence work, NATO would have to be invented if it did not already exist.

"In February 2001, the British Prime minister promised President Bush that EU defence " would in no way undermine NATO…that there would be a joint command and that planning would take place within NATO." When is Mr Blair going to deliver that promise? Rather than taking Europe further down the road to a separate security and defence policy, Mr Blair should be insisting that any EU defence policy is firmly put back under the umbrella of NATO."

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