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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  • Several sources indicated in June 2008 that the United States had withdrawn nuclear weapons from the RAF Lankenheath air base where it is generally believed that 110 U.S. nuclear weapons were deployed.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,
www.defenseimagery.mil

Modernization

  • The current B61-3 and B61-4 deployed in Europe are scheduled for conversion into B61-12, the first of which will be completed by 2020. [5]
  • Enhancements to Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16s and German and Italian Tornado delivery systems are planned from 2015 to 2018. B61-12 bombs will be integrated onto the aircraft. [6]
  • 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. [7]

Destructive Force [8]

  • 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. [9]

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." [10]
     
  • 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. [11]
     
  • In his June 2013 Berlin speech, President Barack Obama stated that the United States intended to work with its NATO allies to seek a "bold reduction" in U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. [12]
     
  • 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. [13]
     
  • 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. [14]
     
  • On September 5, 2014 NATO reasserted the centrality of nuclear deterrence to the security of NATO members, with U.S. nuclear capabilities playing a key role in this strategy. While stating that a situation in which a nuclear weapon would be detonated is highly unlikely, NATO declared that current relations with Russia have halted cooperative disarmament efforts. U.S. nuclear weapons are therefore likely to remain in the five NATO nuclear-sharing countries. [15]
     
  • The five NATO states with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed on their territory support the Australia-led Humanitarian Initiative. [16] 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. [17]


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. [18]

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. [19]

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, "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, "B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Integration on NATO Aircraft to Start in 2015," Federation of American Scientists, March 13, 2014, www.fas.org.
[6] Hans M. Kristensen, "B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Integration on NATO Aircraft to Start in 2015," Federation of American Scientists, March 13, 2014, www.fas.org.
[7] Hans M. Kristensen, "B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Integration on NATO Aircraft to Start in 2015," Federation of American Scientists, March 13, 2014, www.fas.org.
[8] Hans M. Kristensen, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe," Natural Resources Defense Council, Feb. 2005, p. 9, www.nrdc.org.
[9] 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.
[10] "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
[11] "Nuclear Posture Review," Department of Defense, 6 April, 2010, www.defense.gov.
[12] Remarks by President Obama, Berlin, Germany, 19 June 2013, www.whitehouse.gov
[13] 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.
[14] “The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review,” NATO, 20 May 2012, www.nato.int.
[15] "Wales Summit Declaration," Statement by the Heads of State and Government of the North Atlantic Alliance, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, September 5, 2014, www.nato.int.
[16] "Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons," Statement by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, Reaching Critical Will, April 30, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[17] "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, April 28, 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, April 30, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[18] "Country Profiles," Reaching Critical Will, accessed July 8, 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 July 8, 2015, www.disarmament.un.org.
[19] “The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review,” NATO, 20 May 2012, www.nato.int.

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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.

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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.