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Unnecessary, expensive and dangerous new NATO nuclear weapons

 “The planned upgrade of Nato’s tactical nuclear forces in Europe will be expensive and is unnecessary. Nato states are fully secure without this additional capability and should be focused on removing all tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, not on modernising them”.

Nato plans to upgrade nuclear weapons ‘expensive and unnecessary’ Proposals to modernise nuclear arsenal will heighten tensions with Russia, warns thinktank backed by ex-ministers, Richard Norton-Taylor, Friday 11 May 2012 Nato’s plans to upgrade the US’s estimated 180 tactical nuclear weapons in western Europe are unnecessary, expensive and likely to exacerbate already difficult relations with Russia, according to a report.

The alliance is preparing to replace “dumb” free-fall nuclear bombs and ageing delivery aircraft with precision-guided weapons that would be carried by US F35 strike aircraft, according to a report from the European Leadership Network (ELN), a thinktank supported by former UK defence ministers including Lord Des Browne and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

The report, Escalation by Default?: the Future of Nato Nuclear Weapons
In Europe, is by Ted Seay, who until last year was arms control
adviser to the US mission at Nato headquarters in Brussels.

The plans to upgrade significantly the US’s stockpile of tactical
nuclear weapons would increase its ability to reach targets in Russia
at a time when Nato and Russia are already locked in a tense standoff
over missile defence, warns the report.

Nato possesses 180 B61 free-fall tactical nuclear bombs in Europe
stored at bases in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and
Turkey. The bombs, relics of the cold war, have no guidance systems
and are regarded as having no real military purpose or value, says the
report. The aircraft tasked with delivering them are also in need of

Despite defence spending cuts, the US is planning to upgrade the bombs
with precision-guided B61-12 nuclear gravity bombs at a cost of $4bn
(£2.5bn), according to the report. European countries, whose pilots
are trained to deliver the B-61s to their targets, are also facing
expensive decisions to replace their existing aircraft with the US F35
Joint Strike Fighter, whose cost has risen to more than $100m (£62m)

Nato’s plans would produce a “formidable increase in nuclear
capabilities for Nato in Europe”, according to Seay, who adds that
modernisation would be a form of expensive nuclear escalation by
default that could be expected to draw a hostile reaction from Moscow.

Ian Kearns, the ELN chief executive, said: “The planned upgrade of
Nato’s tactical nuclear forces in Europe will be expensive and is
unnecessary. Nato states are fully secure without this additional
capability and should be focused on removing all tactical nuclear
weapons from Europe, not on modernising them”.


May 11, 2012 - Posted by | EUROPE, weapons and war

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