North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), established under the North Atlantic Treaty (Apr. 4, 1949) by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. Greece and Turkey entered the alliance in 1952, West Germany (now Germany) entered in 1955, and Spain joined in 1982. In 1999 the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland joined, and Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined five years later, bringing the membership to 26. NATO maintains headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.The treaty, one of the major Western countermeasures against the threat of aggression by the Soviet Union during the cold war, was aimed at safeguarding the freedom of the North Atlantic community. Considering an armed attack on any member an attack against all, the treaty provided for collective self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
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