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Analyst: NATO Poised to Ramp Up Nuclear-Arms Security Spending

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

A U.S. F-16 fighter jet stationed in 2011 at Belgium's Kleine Brogel air base, one of several European military air installations believed to host U.S. nuclear weapons. A U.S. F-16 fighter jet stationed in 2011 at Belgium's Kleine Brogel air base, one of several European military air installations believed to host U.S. nuclear weapons. (Yorick Jansens/AFP/Getty Images)

An issue expert says NATO is preparing a major increase in spending to protect U.S. nuclear arms fielded in allied European states.

The U.S. Defense Department's fiscal 2015 budget proposal calls for $154 million to bolster defenses at military installations spread across Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. That amount would come in addition to $80 million the alliance has spent in the last 14 years to protect nuclear arms in the six European nations, says a Tuesday report by Hans Kristensen, who heads the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

Kristensen said more than three-fourths of the security spending to date took place in 2011 and 2012, after an Air Force panel determined that defenses at most U.S. nuclear-arms facilities in Europe did not meet Pentagon standards.

Expenditures in those two years appears to have been partly in response to findings by the Air Force Blue Ribbon Review, Kristensen said.

"The additional $154 million suggests that the upgrades in 2011-2012 did not fix all the security issues at the European nuclear bases," he wrote in his assessment, published on the FAS Strategic Security blog.

The United States deploys 184 B-61 nuclear gravity bombs in Europe at an annual cost of roughly $100 million, Kristensen wrote. He said the country is expected to spend $10 billion more in coming years to refurbish the weapons, as well as "hundreds of millions" of dollars on related F-35 aircraft updates.

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