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Norway, Poland Urge Talks on Tactical Nukes in Europe

The top diplomats from Norway and Poland on Friday issued a statement calling for negotiations aimed at curtailing the arsenals of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, Reuters reported (see GSN, April 6).

"We suggest a step-by-step approach, including transparency and confidence-building measures as well as balanced and mutual arms reductions," stated Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere and Polish Radoslaw Sikorski.

The call came in the wake of the signing of a new U.S.-Russian arms control agreement, which would require the former Cold War antagonists to reduce their deployed strategic arsenals to 1,550 nuclear weapons and 700 delivery vehicles (see GSN, April 12).

Moscow and Washington are also the holders of battlefield nuclear weapons in Europe. The United States keeps around 300 at bases in several nations, while Russia has between 2,000 and 3,000 of its own, Sikorski said during a speech in Oslo.

Other estimates have placed the U.S. tactical arsenal in Europe closer to 200 bombs and the Russian stockpile at slightly more than 2,000 weapons.

"This area of weaponry (tactical nuclear arms) has been hidden for military reasons and also outside the scope of diplomatic work," according to Stoere. "Now we will bring it on stage."

Stoere and Sikorski said they hoped to see the matter discussed during a NATO meeting in Estonia, but did not say when any agreement might be reached (Wojciech Moskwa, Reuters/Washington Post, April 9).

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