Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

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

  • 160-200 U.S. non-strategic gravity B-61 warheads.
  • 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).
  • Several 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. [2]
  • Several sources indicated in June 2008 that the United States had withdrawn nuclear weapons from the RAF Lankenheath air base where it is generally believed that 110 U.S. nuclear weapons were deployed. [3]

Weapons System [4]

  • 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, in accordance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, www.defenseimagery.mil


  • The current B61-3 and B61-4 deployed in Europe are scheduled for convertion into B61-12 over the next decade.

Destructive Force [5]

  • 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. [6]

Nuclear Weapons Related Policies

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

  • 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." [7]
  • 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. [8]
  • In his June 2013 Berlin speech, President Barack Obama stated that the United States intends to work with its NATO allies to seek a "bold reduction" in U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. [9]
  • 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. [10]
  • The Deterrence and Defense Posture Review adopted at the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago states that "the Alliance's nuclear force posture currently meets the criteria for an effective deterrence and defense posture." It notes the possibility of reducing reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, but links such a move to reciprocal steps by Russia. [11]

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 CTBT. [12]

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. [13]

[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, pp 64-73, http://thebulletin.metapress.com.
[2] Hans M. Kristensen, "Germany and NATO's Nuclear Dilemma," Federation of American Scientists, Strategic Security Blog, 29 October 2009, www.fas.org.
[3] 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.
[4] Hans M. Kristensen, "Status of U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe 2010," Federation of American Scientists, 12 Feb 2010, www.fas.org; Hans M. Kristensen, "Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Special Report No 3," Federation of American Scientists, May 2012, www.fas.org.
[5] Hans M. Kristensen, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe," Natural Resources Defense Council, Feb. 2005, p. 9, www.nrdc.org.
[6] 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.
[7] "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
[8] "Nuclear Posture Review," Department of Defense, 6 April, 2010, www.defense.gov.
[9] Remarks by President Obama, Berlin, Germany, 19 June 2013, www.whitehouse.gov
[10] 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.
[11] “The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review,” NATO, 20 May 2012, www.nato.int.
[12] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, http://cns.miis.edu.
[13] "The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review," NATO, 20 May 2012, www.nato.int.

CNS logo

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


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.