Nuclear Disarmament NATO

U.S. Nuclear Weapons on the Territories of 5 NATO States

Arsenal Size [1]


BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM), www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

  • Approximately 150 U.S. non-strategic gravity B-61 warheads. [2]
  • Six U.S. nuclear weapon facilities in five NATO countries: Belgium (10-20), Germany (10-20), Italy (60-70), Netherlands (10-20), and Turkey (60-70). [3]
  • Sources indicate that an estimated 130 U.S. nuclear weapons at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany appear to have been removed in July 2007. [4]
  • Sources indicated in June 2008 that the United States had withdrawn nuclear weapons from the RAF Lankenheath air base where it is generally believed that 110 U.S. nuclear weapons had been deployed deployed. [5]
  • Work being done at the United States Air Force Base at Aviano suggests that the supply of tactical weapons at the base seems to have been reduced to between 25 and 35 bombs. [6]

Weapons System [7]

  • Non-strategic gravity bombs (B61-3, B61-4)
  • Delivery system: U.S. F-15 E, F16C/D, Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16s, and German and Italian PA-200 Tornado


Stripped BGM-109G Tomahawk (GLCM) to be destroyed,
www.defenseimagery.mil

Modernization

  • The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is currently modernizing the non-strategic warheads deployed in Europe. NNSA is refurbishing and replacing components of the aging B-61-3 and B-61-4 warheads, converting them into the updated B61-12 model. Under NNSA’s B61-12 Life Extension Plan, the updated warheads will enter full production in 2020 and be deployed by 2024. [8]
  • Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy and possibly Belgium are planning to buy the nuclear-capable F35-A Joint Strike Fighter from the United States, which will begin replacing existing NATO aircraft in 2024. [9] Germany is expected to extend the service life of its nuclear-capable PA-200 tornado through the 2020s. [10]

Destructive Force [11]

  • B-61-3: maximum yield of 170 kt
  • B-61-4: 45 kt

Warheads Dismantled

  • In 1971, U.S. nuclear warheads in Europe peaked at approximately 7,300. Since then, more than 7,000 warheads have been removed. [12]

Nuclear Weapons Related Policies


NATO anti-aircraft missile "Nike", Max Moreau, www.flickr.com

  • The Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) serves as NATO's body for reviewing and discussing nuclear policy. The NPG consists of representatives from all members of the alliance with the exception of France. [13]
     
  • NATO's 2010 Strategic Concept indicated that NATO would remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons continue to exist, but noted that it had reduced reliance on nuclear weapons in NATO strategy. The document emphasized the importance of U.S. strategic nuclear forces (as opposed to tactical nuclear forces like those stationed in Europe) as "the supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies." [14]
     
  • In its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Obama Administration reaffirmed its commitment to "retain the capability to forward-deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on tactical fighter-bombers," and specifically mentioned the life extension program for the B61 bomb, the type of tactical nuclear weapon currently deployed in Europe. [15]
     
  • While NATO continues to reaffirm the importance of deploying US nuclear weapons in Europe, disagreements among member states on this issue have become more pronounced since the German government expressed support for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Germany and Europe in October 2009, followed by similar statements from Belgium and the Netherlands. [16]
     
  • NATO's 2016 Warsaw Summit Communique criticized Russia's annexation of Crimea, destabilization of Ukraine, and aggressive rhetoric. NATO went on to reiterate the deterrence role of nuclear weapons. On the issue of disarmament, NATO stated that disarmament efforts must take into account the current security situation, and that it is regrettable that the prospects for disarmament are "not favorable today." [17]
     
  • The five NATO states with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed on their territory support the Australia-led Humanitarian Initiative. [18] While the alternative Austria-led Initiative maintains that, regardless of circumstances, nuclear weapons should not be detonated, the Australia-led initiative has not made that declaration. With this distinction the Australia-led Humanitarian Initiative provides a more realistic approach to disarmament given the current security atmosphere. [19]


Destroyed BGM-109G Tomahawk ground launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) and launch canisters, www.defenseimagery.mil

Treaty Commitments
  • The five NATO countries that share U.S. nuclear weapons are all parties to the NPT, PTBT, and have signed and ratified the CTBT. [20]
Use of Nuclear Weapons
  • NATO adopts a policy of calculated ambiguity and does not determine in advance how it would react to aggression. However, the organization does acknowledge the Negative Security Assurances (NSAs) that guarantee that nuclear weapons will not be used or their use threatened against NPT non-nuclear weapon states in compliance with their treaty obligations. [21]

Sources:
[1] Hans M. Kristensen, "Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Special Report No 3," Federation of American Scientists, May 2012, www.fas.org; Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe, 2011," Nuclear Notebook, Natural Resources Defense Council, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 2010, p 64-73, http://thebulletin.metapress.com; Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2014," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 70, No. 1, 85-93.
[2] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Status of World Nuclear Forces," Federation of American Scientists, 21 January 2017, www.fas.org.
[3] Hans M. Kristensen, "Upgrades at U.S. Nuclear Bases in Europe Acknowledge Security Risk," Federation of American Scientists, 10 September 2015.
[4] Hans M. Kristensen, "Germany and NATO's Nuclear Dilemma," Federation of American Scientists, Strategic Security Blog, 29 October 2009, www.fas.org.
[5] Hans M. Kristensen, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Withdrawn from the United Kingdom," Federation of American Scientists, Strategic Security Blog, 26 June 2008, www.fas.org.
[6] Hans M. Kristensen, "Upgrades at U.S. Nuclear Bases in Europe Acknowledge Security Risk," Federation of American Scientists, 10 September 2015.
[7] Hans M. Kristensen, "Status of U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe 2010," Federation of American Scientists, 12 February 2010, www.fas.org; Hans M. Kristensen, "Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Special Report No 3," Federation of American Scientists, May 2012, www.fas.org.
[8] United States Government Accountability Office, "NNSA Has a New Approach to Managing the B-61-12 Life Extension, but a Constrained Schedule and Other Risks Remain," GAO-16-218, February 2016, pp. 10-25, www.gao.gov.
[9] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72, No. 2, pp. 63-73, 2016.
[10] Hans M. Kristensen, "B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Integration on NATO Aircraft to Start in 2015," Federation of American Scientists, 13 March 2014, www.fas.org.
[11] Hans M. Kristensen, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe," Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2005, p. 9, www.nrdc.org.
[12] Hans M. Kristensen, "United States Removes Nuclear Weapons from German Base, Documents Indicates," Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, 9 July 2007, www.fas.org.
[13] "Nuclear Planning Group," NATO, 7 April 2016, www.nato.int.
[14] "Active Engagement, Modern Defence, Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of The Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 29 November 2010, www.nato.int
[15] "Nuclear Posture Review," Department of Defense, 6 April 2010, www.defense.gov.
[16] Oliver Meier, "Steinmeier Calls for U.S. to Withdraw Nukes," Arms Control Today, 8 May 2009, www.armscontrol.org; Julian Borger, "Five NATO states to urge removal of US nuclear arms in Europe," The Guardian, 22 February 2010.
[17] "Warsaw Summit Communiqué," Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, 27 July 2016, www.nato.int.
[18] "Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons," Statement by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, Reaching Critical Will, 30 April 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[19] "Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons," Statement by the Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, Reaching Critical Will, 28 April 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; "Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons," Statement by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, Reaching Critical Will, 30 April 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[20] "Country Profiles," Reaching Critical Will, accessed 8 July 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; "Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water," United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, accessed 8 July 2015, www.disarmament.un.org.
[21] “The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review,” NATO, 20 May 2012, www.nato.int.

February 10, 2017
Table of Contents:
About

The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.