Thursday 7th of July 2022

US nukes in europe...

 

United States nuclear weapons in Europe

 

Approximately 150 American B-61 nuclear gravity bombs are stationed in five countries in Europe: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey. While the governments of these countries have never officially declared the presence of these weapons, individuals such as the former Italian President and former Dutch prime minister have confirmed this to be the case.

The nuclear sharing arrangement is part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) defence policy. In peace time, the nuclear weapons stored in non-nuclear countries are guarded by US forces, with a dual code system activated in a time of war. Both host country and the US would then need to approve the use of the weapons, which would be launched on the former’s airplanes.

When these bombs were initially deployed, the original targets were eastern European states. But as the Cold War ended, and these states became part of the European Union and in some cases NATO itself, the practice has become provocative, destabilising and dangerous.

There is strong opposition to these weapons being sited in Europe, including from some of the host nation governments. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have all, unsuccessfully, called for the removal of US nuclear weapons from their countries.

 

Where are the bombs?

Up to 20 nuclear bombs are stored at each of the following: the Kleine Brogel air base in Belgium, the Büchel Air Base in Germany, and the Volkel air base in the Netherlands.

Around 70 bombs are stored in Italy, distributed between the Aviano and Ghedi air bases.

100 of these bombs had been stored at RAF Lakenheath in East Anglia, but were removed in 2008, following persistent popular protest at the airbase. This ended 50 years of US nuclear weapons in Britain.

Tension with Turkey

An estimated 50 bombs are stored at the Incirlik air base in Turkey. The wisdom of storing such a large nuclear weapons stockpile in such a volatile region must be in doubt. Particularly worrying is that the base is less than 70 miles from war-torn Syria.

While Turkey is officially an ally of the US, and a member of NATO, increased tensions in recent months have highlighted the potential risks of the current situation. In December 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even threatened to close the base, which would leave the status of the nuclear weapons unclear.

 

NPT breach

Having US nuclear bombs in Europe conflicts with the legal obligations of the signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Articles 1 and 2 of the NPT forbid the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon states, but Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey are all non-nuclear.

Even though the UK does not host US bombs any more, the UK’s nuclear weapons system has been assigned to NATO since the 1960s. Ultimately, this means that the UK’s nuclear weapons could be used against a country attacking (or threatening to attack) one of the alliance member states since an attack on one NATO member state is seen as being an attack on all member states. NATO also rejects a policy of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons.

The US has argued that transfer and control to the non-nuclear weapon states does not occur until wartime, when the treaty no longer applies; but the controversy continues. 

At the 2018 NATO summit, the alliance declared that NATO’s ‘deterrence posture’ relies on the US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.

 

Tactical nuclear weapons

It is not simply the fact that these nuclear weapons are based in Europe that attracts criticism. There is widespread concern about the type of nuclear weapons as well. A B61 bomb is a tactical nuclear weapon, which is generally understood to be smaller and more ‘usable’ than strategic nuclear weapons (such as the type the UK owns).

Tactical nuclear weapons are more vulnerable than strategic nuclear weapons to terrorist acquisition, because of their generally smaller size, greater numbers, wide distribution and less sophisticated locking and safeguard technology.

 

Upgrade

In 2013 the US administration initiated a Life Extension Programme for the current B61 models deployed in Europe, extending their life by up to 30 years and significantly enhancing their capabilities. This new model, the B61-12, can be accurately steered, is earth-penetrating and is due by 2020. The yield of the bomb can be adjusted, making it more usable, and it is expected to cost over $8 billion, marking the US’ ongoing commitment to the nuclear-sharing arrangement.

Moreover, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have upgraded, or are planning to upgrade, their fighter-bomber planes.

Together, this represents a significant enhancement of US nuclear capability in Europe.

 

Withdrawal 

The US should withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. This would ensure compliance with the NPT (Articles I and II). Moreover, the presence of these weapons endorses the dangerous concept that non-nuclear countries may adopt nuclear roles on behalf of nuclear powers.

This could also pave the way for further negotiations on nuclear weapons reductions with Russia and thereby potentially impacting on multilateral negotiations. Withdrawal would eliminate the risks of accident or hostile attack for areas surrounding the bases where US bombs are deployed.

A withdrawal of all US/NATO nuclear weapons from Europe would have a constructive impact on international disarmament.

 

READ MORE:

https://cnduk.org/resources/united-states-nuclear-weapons-europe/

 

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the west is stupid….

A Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine: How likely is it?

 

The threat of Moscow nuking Ukraine is virtually zero – but irresponsible actions by NATO may increase the nuclear danger to Europe

 

 

 

BY SCOTT RITTER

 

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns, made headlines recently while answering questions from reporters about the threat posed by Russian nuclear weapons within the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. “Given the potential desperation of President [Vladimir] Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said.

Burns’ statements were derived from a fact-set being promulgated by Ukraine, the US and the Western media which holds that Russia has suffered serious setbacks in Ukraine and is desperate to salvage the military situation on the ground. Russia disputes this assessment, holding that what it calls the“special military operation” in Ukraine is proceeding according to plan, having transitioned into its second phase, which focuses on the destruction of Ukrainian military forces in and around the Donbass region.

Burns himself was unable to provide any concrete evidence to back up his claims about the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. “While we’ve seen some rhetorical posturing on the part of the Kremlin about moving to higher nuclear alert levels, so far we haven’t seen a lot of practical evidence of the kind of deployments or military dispositions that would reinforce that concern,” Burns said. “But we watch for that very intently, it’s one of our most important responsibilities at the CIA.”

Burns’ exaggerated and unfounded concerns were put front and center on the international stage by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when answering a question posed by a CNN reporter about the potential for Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. “We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons,” Zelensky replied. “We must prepare for that.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was dismissive of Zelensky’s analysis of Burns’ remarks.“[Zelensky] says many things,” Lavrov said, speaking to a reporter during his recent visit to India. “I cannot comment [on] something, which a not very adequate person pronounces.”

Lavrov noted that the US and Russia had, during the June 2021 Summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterated the Cold War-era understanding that “there could be no winners in a nuclear war,” a statement which was adopted by the Permanent Five members of the Security Council (Russia, the US, China, France, and Great Britain) in January 2022. Lavrov emphasized the fact that this statement remained in full effect, and that Russia would only use conventional weapons in Ukraine.

The statements by Burns and Zelensky, magnified as they have been by a Western media more interested in creating sensational headlines than understanding the reality of the situation regarding Russian nuclear posture, is part and parcel of an overall public relations strategy designed to paint Russia, and its nuclear weapons, as representing an existential threat to world peace.

Russia, and in particular its leader, Vladimir Putin, has left no doubt as to the reality of Russia’s nuclear deterrent capability. Indeed, Putin, when announcing the start of the operation, raised the specter of Russia’s nuclear power status when warning the US, NATO, and the EU not to intervene directly in Ukraine. “Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so, to create threats for our country, for our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history.”

Putin followed that statement up with a more pointed response to what he termed the “unfriendly”actions of “Western countries” in response to the Ukrainian operation. “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members have made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said during a meeting with his top officials. He then directed that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and the chief of the military’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, place Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.”

While anti-Russian pundits in the West jumped on Putin’s directive as an order to elevate the operational readiness of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, the reality is far different – Putin’s orders most likelysimply increased the communications capability of the various command and control functions related to Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, with no change in the operational readiness of any frontline nuclear units.

The ability of the West to overact to any news about Russia’s nuclear arsenal displays a deep-seated lack of understanding as to what Russia’s posture is, and under what circumstances its nukes might be used. While such uncertainty may have been understandable in the past, on June 2, 2022, Russia – for the first time in its 30-year history – released to the public a document, “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence,” which explains Russia’s nuclear war fighting policy.

The Russian “Basic Principles” make clear that nuclear weapons are viewed “exclusively as a means of deterrence,” the use of which could only take place as “an extreme and compelled measure.” Russia’s strategic nuclear forces are organized so that there is “the inevitability of retaliation” in the event of nuclear attack on Russia and that these forces were designed to inflict “guaranteed unacceptable damage” on any potential adversary – in short, any nation on the receiving end of Russia’s nuclear arsenal would cease to exist as a modern state with a functioning society.

The nuclear posture document details Russia’s “launch on warning” posture, noting that Russia would launch its nuclear weapons if it received “reliable data on a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of Russia and/or its allies.” Russia would also retaliate if nuclear weapons were used against Russia and/or its allies.

The document also outlined two non-nuclear scenarios where Russia would retaliate using nuclear weapons. The first involves an attack by an adversary against critical governmental or military sites of Russia, the disruption of which would undermine nuclear force response actions (i.e. a so-called decapitation strike against the political and military leadership). The second involves any aggression against Russia with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.

As Sergey Lavrov pointed out in his statement to the Indian press, none of the conditions set forth in the “Basic Principles” document apply to the current situation in Ukraine.

This does not, however, mean that the Ukraine conflict has not resulted in elevating the nuclear temperature in Europe – far from it. In Sweden, support for joining NATO is growing, and Finland could be filing an application for membership within weeks. If the US-led bloc expands to these two countries, it may be a case for a potential military response by Russia – or at least a boosted build-up of Russian forces. According to Dmitry Medvedev, a former president and prime minister who currently advises President Putin on national security matters, if either Sweden or Finland were to join NATO, “it will no longer be possible to talk about any nuclear-free status of the Baltic – the balance must be restored.”

Medvedev noted that “Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” but added that “if our hand is forced, well… take note it wasn’t us who proposed this.”

The talk of Sweden and/or Finland joining NATO comes on the heels of a concerted effort by the bloc to deploy nuclear-capable F-35A fighters. “We’re moving fast and furiously towards F-35 modernization and incorporating those into our planning and into our exercising and things like that as those capabilities come online,” Jessica Cox, the director of the NATO nuclear policy directorate in Brussels, declared recently. “By the end of the decade, most if not all of our allies will have transitioned” to the F-35, Cox said.

The F-35A was certified as a nuclear capable aircraft in October 2021, having been tested using B-61 nuclear bombs. The US maintains a stockpile of some 150 B-61 nuclear bombs at various depots throughout Europe. These weapons are intended to be used by both the US and so-called “non-nuclear” members of NATO. Indeed, Cox had specifically noted that other NATO allies currently operating the F-35, such as Poland, Denmark, and Norway, might be called upon to support NATO nuclear sharing missions in the future. Finland has recently announced that it intends to purchase 60 F-35A fighters, a move that can only be seen as worrisome by Russia considering Finland’s stated desire to join NATO.

The extensive use by the US and other NATO air forces of the F-35A in support of the so-called “Baltic air policing” operation ongoing over the skies of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, is seen by Russia as representing a serious threat, given that every F-35A in the air must be treated as a potential nuclear-armed threat.

Jessica Cox and the other proponents of the F-35A fighter – including Finland – would do well to reflect on the fact that the Russian “Basic Principles” list the “deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery means in the territories of non-nuclear weapon states” as one of the scenarios “to be neutralized by the implementation of nuclear deterrence.”

Russia may not be preparing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. However, NATO’s irresponsible posturing may result in increasing the potential for Russian nuclear weapons to be used in Europe.

 

 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

 

 

READ MORE:

https://www.rt.com/russia/554278-threat-nuclear-danger-ukraine/

 

 

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top and bottom….

 

IN THE AIR:

....

The USAF continues to rely on the B-52 because it remains an effective and economical heavy bomber in the absence of sophisticated air defenses, particularly in the type of missions that have been conducted since the end of the Cold War against nations with limited defensive capabilities. The B-52 has also continued in service because there has been no reliable replacement.[227] The B-52 has the capacity to "loiter" for extended periods, and can deliver precisionstandoff and direct fire munitions from a distance, in addition to direct bombing. It has been a valuable asset in supporting ground operations during conflicts such as Operation Iraqi Freedom.[228] The B-52 had the highest mission capable rate of the three types of heavy bombers operated by the USAF in the 2000–2001 period. The B-1 averaged a 53.7% ready rate, the B-2 Spirit achieved 30.3%, while the B-52 averaged 80.5%.[191] The B-52's $72,000 cost per hour of flight is more than the B-1B's $63,000 cost per hour, but less than the B-2's $135,000 per hour.[229]

The Long Range Strike Bomber program is intended to yield a stealthy successor for the B-52 and B-1 that would begin service in the 2020s; it is intended to produce 80 to 100 aircraft. Two competitors, Northrop Grumman and a joint team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, submitted proposals in 2014;[230] Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract in October 2015.[231]

On 12 November 2015, the B-52 began freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea in response to Chinese man-made islands in the region. Chinese forces, claiming jurisdiction within a 12-mile exclusion zone of the islands, ordered the bombers to leave the area, but they refused, not recognizing jurisdiction.[232] On 10 January 2016, a B-52 overflew parts of South Korea escorted by South Korean F-15Ks and U.S. F-16s in response to the supposed test of a hydrogen bomb by North Korea.[233]

On 9 April 2016, an undisclosed number of B-52s arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, part of the Military intervention against ISIL. The B-52s took over heavy bombing after B-1 Lancers that had been conducting airstrikes rotated out of the region in January 2016.[234] In April 2016, B-52s arrived in Afghanistan to take part in the war in Afghanistan and began operations in July, proving its flexibility and precision carrying out close-air support missions.[235]

According to a statement by the U.S. military, an undisclosed number of B-52s participated in the U.S. (ILLEGAL) strikes on pro-government forces in eastern Syria on 7 February 2018.[236]

 

READ MORE:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_B-52_Stratofortress

 

 

MEANWHILE BELOW THE SURFACE:

 

World War II submarine operations paved the way for most of today’s submarine missions. Today’s submarine force is the most capable force in the world and the history of U.S. Navy, comprising 53 fast attack submarines, 14 ballistic-missile submarines and four guided-missile submarines. Our existing fleet of ballistic submarines currently carries 54 percent of our nation’s nuclear deterrent arsenal, and their replacements will carry an even greater percentage of strategic warheads.

 

READ MORE:

https://www.sublant.usff.navy.mil/About-Us/Submarine-Facts/

 

 

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Strategic warheads: read nukes.... BOOM...

 

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