Nuclear Disarmament Italy

NATO Non-nuclear Weapon State
Sharing U.S. Nuclear Weapons

Estimated Arsenal Size

  • 45-55 U.S. non-strategic B-61 gravity bombs in two locations (25 to 35 at the Aviano Air Base, and 20 at the Ghedi Torre Air Base) [1]
  • Work being done at the United States Air Force Base at Aviano suggests that the number of weapons at the base may have been reduced to as few as 25 to 35. [2]

Weapons System

  • Non-strategic warheads: B-61-3, B-61-4 [3]
  • Delivery Aircraft: U.S. F-16C/D and Italian PA-200 Tornados

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. [4]
  • Italy is planning to buy the nuclear-capable F35-A Joint Strike Fighter from the United States, which will begin replacing existing NATO aircraft in 2024. [5]

Destructive Power

  • B-61-3: maximum yield of 170 kilotons
  • B-61-4: 45 kilotons [6]

Nuclear Weapons Policies

  • In the 2018 Brussels Summit, NATO reaffirmed that the fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear forces is deterrence, and that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. [7]
  • Italy, as a NATO country hosting U.S. nuclear weapons, is not a signatory to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). [8]
  • Unlike other NATO countries, Italy passed a resolution that allowed the Italian government to consider ratifying a ban on nuclear weapons. This suggests that the TPNW and NATO states are not necessarily incompatible. [9]

Treaty Commitments

  • State party to the NPT and PTBT. Signed and ratified the CTBT. [10]

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, "Upgrades At U.S. Nuclear Bases in Europe Acknowledge Security Risk," Federation of American Scientists, 10 September 2015.
[3] Hans M. Kristensen, "Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Special Report No 3," Federation of American Scientists, May 2012, www.fas.org.
[4] United States Government Accountability Office, "NNSA Has a New Approach to Managing the B-61-12 Life Extension, but a Constrained Schedule and Other Risks Remain," GAO-16-218, February 2016, pp. 10-25. www.gao.gov.
[5] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Slowing Nuclear Weapon Reductions and Endless Nuclear Weapons Modernizations: A Challenge to the NPT," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 70, No. 3 (May/June 2014), pp. 96-108.
[6] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 70, No. 1, pp. 85-93.
[7] “NATO Summit Guide, Brussels 2018,” NATO, 11 July 2018, www.nato.int.
[8] “Positions on the treaty,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 7 July 2017, www.icanw.org.
[9] “Italian Parliament instructs Italy to explore possibility of joining the Nuclear Ban Treaty,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 20 September 2017, www.icanw.org.
[10] "Country Profiles: Italy," Reaching Critical Will, accessed 8 July 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; "Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water," United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, accessed 8 July 2015, www.disarmament.un.org.

January 2, 2019
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The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.