Fact Sheet

Nuclear Disarmament Belgium

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Nuclear Disarmament Belgium

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NATO Non-nuclear Weapon State
Sharing US Nuclear Weapons

Estimated Arsenal Size

  • 10-20 U.S. non-strategic gravity B-61 warheads at the Kleine Brogel Air Base [1]

Weapons System

  • Non-strategic warheads:
    B-61-3, B-61-4
  • Delivery Aircraft:
    Belgian F-16A/B [2]

Modernization

  • The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is currently modernizing the non-strategic warheads deployed in Europe. NNSA is refurbishing and replacing components of the aging B-61-3 and B-61-4 warheads, converting them into the updated B61-12 model. Under NNSA’s B61-12 Life Extension Plan, the updated warheads will enter full production in 2020 and be deployed by 2024. [3]
  • Belgium began replacing its F-16A/B fleet in 2016. In 2018, Belgium decided to replace its F-16 fleet with 34 U.S.-made F-35. [4]

Estimated Destructive Forces

  • B-61-3: maximum yield of 170 kilotons
  • B-61-4: 45 kilotons [5]

Nuclear Weapons Policies

  • 1999 NATO Strategic Concept confirms commitment to deploying nuclear weapons in Europe to maintain the "minimum level sufficient to preserve peace and stability." [6] In 2010 NATO reasserted that it would continue to be a nuclear alliance while nuclear weapons continue to exist. [7]
  • In 2018, NATO reaffirmed that the fundamental purpose of NATO nuclear forces is deterrence, and that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. [8]
  • Belgium and the other NATO non-nuclear weapon states sharing U.S. nuclear weapons support the Australia-led Humanitarian Initiative. [9] The Austria-led Initiative maintains that, regardless of circumstance, nuclear weapons should not be detonated. The Australia-led initiative has not made that declaration. [10]
  • Belgium, as a NATO country, does not support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). NATO has criticized the TPNW, saying it is “at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture, risks undermining the NPT, and is inconsistent with the Alliance’s nuclear deterrence policy.” [11]

Treaty Commitments

  • State party to the NPT, PTBT. Signed and ratified CTBT [12]

Sources:
[1] Hans M. Kristensen, “Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Special Report No. 3,” Federation of American Scientists, May 2012, www.fas.org.
[2] Hans M. Kristensen, “Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Special Report No. 3,” Federation of American Scientists, May 2012, www.fas.org.
[3] U.S. Department of Energy, “FY 2019 Congressional Budget Request Budget in Brief,” DOE/CF-0144, March 2018, pp. 1-68, www.energy.gov.
[4] Valerie Insinna, “F-35 officially wins Belgian fighter contest,” Defense News, 25 October 2018, www.defensenews.com.
[5] Hans M. Kristensen, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe,” Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2005, p. 9, www.nrdc.org.
[6] "The Alliance's New Strategic Concept," NATO, 24 April 1999, www.nato.int.
[7] “Conference on Disarmament Discusses Possible Ways Forward,” The United Nations Office at Geneva, 31 January 2017, www.unog.ch.
[8] “NATO Summit Guide, Brussels 2018,” NATO, 11 July 2018, www.nato.int.
[9] "Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons," Statement by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, Reaching Critical Will, 30 April 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[10] "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, 28 April 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, 30 April 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[11] “NATO Summit Guide, Brussels 2018,” NATO, 11 July 2018, www.nato.int.
[12] “Country Profiles: Belgium,” Reaching Critical Will, accessed 1 November 2018, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.

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U.S. Nuclear Policies for a Safer World

Special Report

U.S. Nuclear Policies for a Safer World

NTI Co-Chairs Ernest J. Moniz and Sam Nunn call on the United States to resume a position of global leadership to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons.



Glossary

Non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS)
Non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS): Under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), NNWS are states that had not detonated a nuclear device prior to 1 January 1967, and who agree in joining the NPT to refrain from pursuing nuclear weapons (that is, all state parties to the NPT other than the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China).
Tactical nuclear weapons
Short-range nuclear weapons, such as artillery shells, bombs, and short-range missiles, deployed for use in battlefield operations.
Kiloton
Kiloton: A term used to quantify the energy of a nuclear explosion that is equivalent to the explosion of 1,000 tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT) conventional explosive.
Deployment
The positioning of military forces – conventional and/or nuclear – in conjunction with military planning.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
The NPT: Signed in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the most widely adhered-to international security agreement. The “three pillars” of the NPT are nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Article VI of the NPT commits states possessing nuclear weapons to negotiate in good faith toward halting the arms race and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty stipulates that non-nuclear-weapon states will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and will accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on their nuclear activities, while nuclear weapon states commit not to transfer nuclear weapons to other states. All states have a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and should assist one another in its development. The NPT provides for conferences of member states to review treaty implementation at five-year intervals. Initially of a 25-year duration, the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995. For additional information, see the NPT.
Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT)
The PTBT: Also known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water prohibits nuclear weapons tests "or any other nuclear explosion" in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water. While the treaty does not ban tests underground, it does prohibit nuclear explosions in this environment if they cause "radioactive debris to be present outside the territorial limits of the State under whose jurisdiction or control" the explosions were conducted. The treaty is of unlimited duration. For additional information, see the PTBT.
Ratification
Ratification: The implementation of the formal process established by a country to legally bind its government to a treaty, such as approval by a parliament. In the United States, treaty ratification requires approval by the president after he or she has received the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate. Following ratification, a country submits the requisite legal instrument to the treaty’s depository governments Procedures to ratify a treaty follow its signature.

See entries for Entry into force and Signature.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The CTBT: Opened for signature in 1996 at the UN General Assembly, the CTBT prohibits all nuclear testing if it enters into force. The treaty establishes the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to ensure the implementation of its provisions and verify compliance through a global monitoring system upon entry into force. Pending the treaty’s entry into force, the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO is charged with establishing the International Monitoring System (IMS) and promoting treaty ratifications. CTBT entry into force is contingent on ratification by 44 Annex II states. For additional information, see the CTBT.

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