NATO to Review Nuclear Posture

The NATO Nuclear Planning Group was set to convene on Tuesday to assess new strategic realities, according to RIA Novosti.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen leads the special panel on nuclear weapons issues, which involves all NATO states with the exception of France. Unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, France has not committed any of its nuclear weapons to the alliance.

The 28-member alliance at a summit in May approved an updated defense strategy that essentially did little to change the role nuclear weapons play in NATO's deterrence posture. The Deterrence and Defense Posture Review reaffirmed that "nuclear weapons are a core component of NATO’s overall capabilities for deterrence."

The military bloc did recommit itself in the DDPR document to the long-term aim of fostering a strategic climate that is conducive to global nuclear disarmament.

As part of their contribution to the nuclear alliance, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey are understood to retain approximately 180 U.S. gravity bombs as a holdover from the Cold War. In recent years, there have been mounting calls from inside Europe and the United States to withdraw those tactical weapons as they are no longer viewed as holding much military utility in deterring attacks on NATO members.

However, the posture review mandates "any further steps" to withdraw atomic armaments from Europe "take into account the disparity with the greater Russian stockpiles of short-range nuclear weapons."

Russia is understood to have roughly 2,000 tactical nuclear warheads "in central storage" and another 5,500 weapons that have been removed from service prior to possible disassembly.

The Kremlin has signaled it will not consider any new tactical or strategic nuclear arms reductions absent an agreement with NATO and the United States that would govern an evolving alliance ballistic missile shield on the continent.

October 9, 2012
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The NATO Nuclear Planning Group was set to convene on Tuesday to assess new strategic realities, according to RIA Novosti.