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NATO's Sixty Year Legacy: Threat Of Nuclear War In Europe

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A Time Magazine report of June of last year revealed that "The U.S. keeps an estimated 350 thermonuclear bombs in six NATO countries. In four of those — Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands — the weapons are stored at the host nation's air bases, where they are guarded by specially trained U.S. military personnel.

"A 'burden-sharing' agreement that has been at the heart of NATO military
policy since its inception.

"Although technically owned by the U.S., nuclear bombs stored at NATO bases are designed to be delivered by planes from the host country."

The bombs include B61-3, B61-4, and B61-10 nuclear weapons at eight different bases.

The B-61 in its latest variant, the 1997 Mod 11, is a thermonuclear gravity bomb and 180 are estimated to be stationed on European airbases under the NATO nuclear sharing arrangement. It is the standard contemporary American nuclear bomb.

The basing of nuclear arms in non-nuclear-weapon states with the further intent of their being used by warplanes of the latter under NATO "burden sharing" and "nuclear sharing" agreements runs afoul of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT).

Article I of the Treaty states:

"Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices."

Article II continues:

"Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

Five of the six NATO nations still hosting US nuclear weapons and obligated to deploy their own aircraft to use them if ordered to are non-nuclear-weapon states: Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Turkey. 

Last June a spokesman for the Global Peace and Justice Coalition in the Turkish city of Adana, only a few kilometers from the Incirlik air base used for decades by the US and NATO, asserted that Incirlik contained the largest amount of US nuclear weapons outside the United States itself and "We have organized many protests for this base of war to be shut down and for the disarmament of the nuclear warheads. We do not wish to see Adana and Turkey becoming Hiroshima. We will not give up."
(Turkish Daily News, June 30, 2008)

In the same month a German federal official, Ulrich Wilhelm, stated that his nation was duty-bound to the use of nuclear arms as an alleged military deterrent and added, "For the foreseeable future....we remain of the view that a deterring military capacity includes not only conventional capacity but also nuclear components."
(Agence France-Presse, June 23, 2008)

Up to 20 US nuclear warheads are reportedly deployed at the German airbase in Buechel, where they can be mounted on German Tornado fighter planes for missions to the east. An additional 130 American warheads are suspected to be stored at the US airbase in Ramstein for similar purposes.

German peace groups and the Left Party have for years demanded the removal of the weapons and a nuclear-free Germany.

In December of 2007 the mayors of the Italian cities of Aviano and Ghedi, which both host dozens of US nuclear warheads, signed a petition demanding the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at:
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