Fact Sheet

Nuclear Disarmament Belgium

Part of Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection

Nuclear Disarmament Belgium

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Arsenal and Missile Types

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

Weapons System

  • Non-strategic warheads: B-61
  • Delivery Aircraft: Belgian F-16
  • Set to acquire 34 F-35A aircraft from U.S.

Capabilities and Developments


  • The U.S. 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 to extend the warhead life by 20 years. Production began in 2020 with an expected conclusion date of 2026.
  • In 2018, Belgium decided to replace its F-16 fleet with 34 U.S.-made F-35s.

Commitments and Policies

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.”
  • In 2022, 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.
  • Belgium supports the Australia-led Humanitarian Initiative.
  • Belgium, as a NATO country, does not support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Belgium said that the TPNW, “is not the right tool to achieve our objectives of initiating global, reciprocal, and gradual efforts” toward disarmament.

Treaty Commitments

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

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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.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance that was formed in 1949 to help deter the Soviet Union from attacking Europe. The Alliance is based on the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington on 4 April 1949. The treaty originally created an alliance of 10 European and two North American independent states, but today NATO has 28 members who have committed to maintaining and developing their defense capabilities, to consulting on issues of mutual security concern, and to the principle of collective self-defense. NATO is also engaged in out-of-area security operations, most notably in Afghanistan, where Alliance forces operate alongside other non-NATO countries as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). For additional information, see NATO.
The actions of a state or group of states to dissuade a potential adversary from initiating an attack or conflict through the credible threat of retaliation. To be effective, a deterrence strategy should demonstrate to an adversary that the costs of an attack would outweigh any potential gains. See entries for Extended deterrence and nuclear deterrence.
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: 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.


  1. “The Alliance’s New Strategic Concept,” NATO, April 24, 1999, www.nato.int.
  2. “Belgium,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 2022, www.icanw.org.
  3. Shannon Bugos, “U.S. Nuclear Modernization Programs,” Arms Control Association, last reviewed January 2022, www.armscontrol.org.
  4. “Country Profiles: Belgium,” Reaching Critical Will, accessed July 18, 2022, www.reachingcriticalwill.org
  5. Valerie Insinna, “F-35 officially wins Belgian fighter contest,” Defense News, October 2018, www.defensenews.com.
  6. Hans M. Kristensen, “Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Special Report No. 3,” Federation of American Scientists, May 2012, www.fas.org.
  7. Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, “United States nuclear weapons, 2023,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 79, no. 1 (2023), pp. 28-52, www.tandfonline.com.
  8. “NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy and forces,” NATO, July 6, 2022, 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, April 30 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
  10. Lee Ferran, “Belgium presented with first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,” Breaking Defense, December 11, 2023, https://breakingdefense.com.


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