Major non-NATO ally

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  United States
  Major non-NATO allies
  Former Major non-NATO Ally
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Note that political borders on the map do not correspond to those recognized by the United States.

Major non-NATO ally (MNNA) is a designation given by the United States government to close allies that have strategic working relationships with the US Armed Forces but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). While the status does not automatically include a mutual defense pact with the United States, it confers a variety of military and financial advantages that otherwise are not obtainable by non-NATO countries. There are currently 19 major non-NATO allies across four continents (11 in Asia, three in Africa, three in South America, and two in Oceania).


Prayut Chan-o-cha, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, in Arlington, Virginia, June 6, 2013

MNNA status was first created in 1987[1] when section 2350a, otherwise known as the Sam Nunn Amendment, was added to Title 10 (Armed Forces) of the United States Code by Congress.[2] It stipulated that cooperative research and development agreements could be enacted with non-NATO allies by the Secretary of Defense with the concurrence of the Secretary of State. The initial MNNAs were Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, and South Korea.[1] In 1996, major non-NATO allies received additional military and financial benefits when section 2321k was added to Title 22 (Foreign Relations) of the US Code (also known as section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961), which added MNNAs to many of the same exemptions from the Arms Export Control Act that were enjoyed by NATO members. It also authorized the President to designate a nation as an MNNA thirty days after notifying Congress.[3] When enacted, the statute designated the initial five countries as major non-NATO allies, and added Jordan and New Zealand to the list.


In 1998, President Bill Clinton named Argentina as an ally for the "Argentine compromise and contribution to international peace and security" materialized in its participation in the Gulf War (being the only South American country to do so), and for its continuing support of United Nations peacekeeping missions.[4][5]


In 2019, Donald Trump designated Brazil as a major non-NATO ally[6] after receiving a working visit from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.[7]

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during a meeting held at the Pentagon, April 5, 2017


In March 2022, Joe Biden designated Colombia as a major non-NATO ally. Biden said: "I've said for a long time Colombia is a keystone to our shared efforts to build a hemisphere as prosperous, secure and democratic ... Today I'm proud to announce that I intend to designate Colombia a major non-NATO ally ... that's exactly what you are".[8]


In May 2015, US President Barack Obama declared his intention to make Tunisia a non-NATO ally while hosting his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi at the White House.


The designation of certain countries as major non-NATO allies has not been without controversy. In 2017, US Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rick Nolan (D-MN) introduced H.R. 3000, a bill to revoke Pakistan's position as an MNNA, citing inadequate counterterrorism efforts, the harboring of Osama bin Laden and Pakistani support for the Taliban.[9] The bill never received a vote. In 2021, US Representative Andy Biggs introduced H.R. 35, another version of the legislation.

In 2017, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of having ties to terror groups.[10] Reuters reported that "possible Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding U.S. drone strikes and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally."[11]


On January 31, 2022, President Joe Biden announced that Qatar would be made a major non-NATO ally, citing its assistance during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.[12]


When Congress enacted on September 30, 2002, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2003, it required that Taiwan be "treated as though it were designated a major non-NATO ally."[13] Despite some initial misgivings about Congress's perceived intrusion into the President's foreign affairs authority, the Bush administration subsequently submitted a letter to Congress on August 29, 2003, designating Taiwan as a major non-NATO ally.[13]

Southeast Asia[edit]

Around the same time, invitations were sent to the ASEAN members Thailand and the Philippines, both of whom accepted. Singapore was reportedly offered a similar arrangement, but turned down the offer.[14][15]

New Zealand[edit]

US–New Zealand strategic and military cooperation suffered a setback after the breakdown of the ANZUS alliance in 1984 over nuclear ship entry. The designation of New Zealand as an MNNA in 1997 reflected the warming of relations between the two. In June 2012 New Zealand signed a partnership arrangement with NATO further strengthening and consolidating relations.

Potential MNNAs[edit]

Some countries might be close to a designation:[16]

Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova[edit]

In 2014, following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, a bill was introduced to the United States Congress to grant major non-NATO ally status to Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.[17] A bill to make Ukraine a major non-NATO ally was introduced into the US House of Representatives in May 2019.[18] As of 2022, these changes have not been made despite support from the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[19]

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries[edit]

During a 2015 Camp David summit with the Gulf Cooperation Council states, the Obama administration considered designating Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Qatar as MNNAs.[20] Qatar has since been designated as an MNNA.


In June 2019, US lawmakers provided for enhancements to India's status, though this fell short of making them a MNNA.[21][22]

Finland and Sweden[edit]

According to Finnish newspapers in early March 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden had planned to apply for major non-NATO ally status.[23][24][25] Since then, the two countries have applied for membership of NATO itself.[26][27]


Nations named as major non-NATO allies are eligible for the following benefits:[28]

Major Partners[edit]

Israel as Major Strategic Partner[edit]

In December 2014, the US House passed the United States–Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.[29] This new category would have placed Israel one notch above the Major Non-NATO Ally classification and would have added additional support for defense and energy infrastructure, and strengthened cooperation through business and academics.[30] The bill additionally called for the US to increase their war reserve stock in Israel to US$1.8 billion.[31] The bill did not reach a vote, and as such did not pass or become law.

India as Major Defense Partner[edit]

In 2016, the US recognized India as a "major defense partner". This occurred less than a month after the House of Representatives passed the US India Defense Technology and Partnership Act.[32] This allowed India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies that is on par with that of US' closest allies and partners.[33] The U.S. has four "foundational agreements" that it signs with India.

List of MNNAs[edit]

Current MNNAs[edit]

The following countries have been designated as major non-NATO allies of the United States in chronological order of their designation. In addition, an act provides that the Republic of China (Taiwan) shall be treated as an MNNA, without formal designation as such:[34][35][36][37]

South Korean soldiers and a US Army officer monitor the Korean Demilitarized Zone in 2008
Australian Defence Force, New Zealand Defence Force and US Army personnel conduct medevac training exercises at Camp Taji, Iraq, in 2018
President Country Year Note
Ronald Reagan  Australia 1987 [1]
 South Korea
Bill Clinton  Jordan 1996 [38]
 New Zealand 1997 [3]
 Argentina 1998 [39]
George W. Bush  Bahrain 2002 [40]
 Philippines 2003 [41]
 Thailand [42]
 Taiwan [13]
 Kuwait 2004 [43]
 Morocco [44]
 Pakistan [45]
Barack Obama
 Tunisia 2015 [46]
Donald Trump  Brazil 2019 [47][48]
Joe Biden  Qatar 2022 [49][50]
 Colombia [8][51]

Former MNNA[edit]

  •  Afghanistan (2012–2022): Designated by the Obama administration in 2012,[52][53] and remained so de jure following the Taliban takeover in 2021. The Biden administration formally notified Congress of its revocation of Afghanistan's MNNA status in July 2022.[54][55]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "U.S. Is Granting Israel Non-NATO Ally Status : Move Should Bring Strategic and Economic Gains, Shamir Says; Egypt Gets Same Rating". Los Angeles Times. February 16, 1987. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  2. ^ Title 10, section 2350a of US Code Archived 2012-07-21 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b 22 U.S.C. § 2321k
  4. ^ "Argentina, gran aliado extra-OTAN" [Argentina great ally extra-NATO]. Perfil (in Spanish). April 29, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  5. ^ "Polémica por la designación como aliado extra-OTAN" [Controversy over designation as extra-OTAN ally]. Clarín (in Spanish). October 10, 1997. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  6. ^ "Major Non-NATO Ally Status". United States Department of State. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  7. ^ "Trump bumps up Brazil to 'major non-NATO' ally".
  8. ^ a b Samuels, Brett (March 10, 2022). "Biden designates Colombia as major non-NATO ally". Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  10. ^ "General Dunford: Pakistan intelligence has links to 'terrorists'". Al-Jazeera. October 4, 2017.
  11. ^ "Mattis says will try to work with Pakistan 'one more time'". Reuters. October 3, 2017.
  12. ^ Shear, Michael D. (January 31, 2022). "Biden Designates Qatar as a Major Non-NATO Ally". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  13. ^ a b c Kan, Shirley (December 2009). Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990. DIANE Publishing. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-4379-2041-3.
  14. ^ Huxley, Tim (July 30, 2012). "Singapore and the US: not quite allies". The Strategist. Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  15. ^ Graham, Euan (December 10, 2015). "The US-Singapore enhanced defence agreement: A third upgrade for bilateral collaboration". The Interpreter. The Lowy Institute. Archived from the original on August 26, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Bazhenova, Olga (April 2021). "The Major non-NATO Ally Status: Characteristics, Chronology, Geographical Distribution". International Organisations Research Journal. 16 (1): 162–171. doi:10.17323/1996-7845-2021-01-08. S2CID 236278254.
  17. ^ H.R. 5782 - Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014
  18. ^ "Ukraine might be designated as major non-NATO US ally". Kyiv Post. June 1, 2019. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  19. ^ Mackinnon, Amy. "U.S. Commission Urges Biden to Designate Ukraine, Georgia as Major Non-NATO Allies". Foreign Policy. Retrieved May 9, 2022.
  20. ^ Toosi, Nahal (May 14, 2015). "U.S. may raise Arab states to 'major' ally status". Politico. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  21. ^ "US Senate okays non-Nato ally status for India". Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  22. ^ Iwanek, Krzysztof (August 1, 2019). "No, India Isn't a 'Major Non-NATO Ally' of the United States". The Diplomat.
  23. ^ Buchert, Peter. "Finland och Sverige driver närmare Nato – utan att bekräfta slutmålet". (in Swedish). Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  24. ^ "Finland and Sweden seek US defense guarantees in 'Northern Fortress' alliance to deter Russian ambitions in the Nordic region". Remix News. March 8, 2022. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  25. ^ "IL:n tiedot: Suomi ja Ruotsi hakevat yhdessä Major non-NATO ally -statuksen kaltaista yhteistyötä Yhdysvaltain kanssa". (in Finnish). Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  26. ^ "Sweden, Finland submit applications to join NATO". POLITICO. May 18, 2022. Retrieved May 29, 2022.
  27. ^ "Finland and Sweden officially apply to join NATO despite Russia's warnings". Retrieved May 29, 2022.
  28. ^ "Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA)". September 15, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  29. ^ "Congress enshrines Israel in a new class of ally". The Jerusalem Post - Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  30. ^ "US Congress passes Israel strategic partnership bill". The Times of Israel. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  31. ^ "US Congress passes Israel strategic partnership bill". Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  32. ^ Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy. "US recognizes India as 'major defense partner' - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  33. ^ "U.S.A. GRANTS INDIA NON-NATO ALLY STATUS". IAS gateway. July 3, 2019. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  34. ^ "Major Non-NATO Ally Status". US State Department. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  35. ^ "Code of Federal Regulations - Title 22 - Foreign Relations - § 120.23 Organizations and Arrangements". Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
  36. ^ "22 USC 2321k: Designation of major non-NATO allies". United States Government Publishing Office. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  37. ^ "What's New". The World Factbook. Retrieved October 21, 2021. The US Government designates 16 countries as Major Non-NATO Allies (MNNA) with which it has strategic working relationships in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation. The countries are: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and Tunisia. While MNNA status provides military and economic privileges, it does not entail any security commitments. Information on MNNA status has been added to the “Military – note” for each of these countries.
  38. ^ Stearns, Scott (July 7, 2012). "Afghanistan Designated Major US Ally During Clinton Visit to Kabul". Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  39. ^ "Overview of U.S. Policy Toward South America and the President's Upcoming Trip to the Region". Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  40. ^ "Memorandum on Designation of Bahrain as a Major Non-NATO Ally". The American Presidency Project. March 14, 2002. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  41. ^ "Bush 'upgrades' Philippines". CNN. May 20, 2003. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  42. ^ Despeignes, Peronet (October 20, 2003). "U.S. wants APEC agenda to include security issues". USA Today. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  43. ^ "US tightens military relationship with Kuwait". Associated Press. January 15, 2004. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2012.(subscription required)
  44. ^ "US rewards Morocco for terror aid". BBC News. June 4, 2004. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  45. ^ UNITED STATES DESIGNATES PAKISTAN AS MAJOR NON-NATO ALLY OF AMERICA IN SOUTH ASIA South Asia Analysis Group Archived April 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ "Designation of Tunisia as a Major Non-NATO Ally". US Department of State. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  47. ^ "Memorandum on the Designation of the Federative Republic of Brazil as a Major Non-NATO Ally". July 31, 2019 – via National Archives.
  48. ^ "Message to the Congress on Designating Brazil as a Major Non-NATO Ally". May 8, 2019 – via National Archives.
  49. ^ Todd, Lopez. "'Major Non-NATO Ally' Designation Will Enhance U.S., Qatar Relationship". US Department of Defense. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  50. ^ "Biden designates Qatar, Colombia as 'major non-NATO allies' of US". Biden designates Qatar, Colombia as 'major non-NATO allies' of US. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  51. ^ Tiempo, Casa Editorial El (March 10, 2022). "Joe Biden designa a Colombia como aliado principal extra-Otán". El Tiempo (in Spanish). Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  52. ^ "Hillary Clinton says Afghanistan 'major non-Nato ally'". BBC News. July 7, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  53. ^ Afghanistan's Independence Day Press by Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of United States. August 17, 2012
  54. ^ "Biden to rescind Afghanistan's designation as major non-NATO ally". The Hill. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  55. ^ "Letter to the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate providing notice of the President's intent to rescind the designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally". White House. BRIEFING ROOM. Retrieved July 6, 2022.