A recent media report about Washington’s plans to upgrade nuclear bombs in Western Germany resulted in Russia expressing concern, but the United States denied allegations of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
On Tuesday, German TV station ZDF cited a Pentagon budget document saying that the US Air Force would deploy modernized B-61 nuclear bombs to Germany’s Buchel air force base this fall in order to replace the 20 weapons already at the site.
Following the announcement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the possible US move as a potential “violation of the strategic balance in Europe,” that would demand a Russian response.
Moscow expressed concern about the reported nuclear deployment plans, saying this would infringe on the 1970 Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, sanctioned by more than 190 states.
In response to that, the spokesperson of US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller said the deployment of US nuclear weapons in the territories of its NATO allies is “consistent” with all international agreements.
Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC, spoke to Sputnik regarding this war of words between the two countries.
“The US is not increasing the amount of weapons but upgrading them. Those will double the accuracy of the weapon. It was the European member states that insisted that weapons stay in Europe, whereas the US may have wanted to pull back and focus more on strategic weapons.”
Kristensen went on to say that Germany has had nuclear weapons on its soil since the 1950’s. They are now down to just one base that has now a few weapons left.
“Back in the 70’s the United States used to have 7,000 nuclear weapons in Europe and now we are down to about 180 of them.”
Regarding the heightening tensions between Moscow and Washington, the director said, “All the countries are upgrading their nuclear weapons systems; Russia is upgrading their weapons too. This is not a new program; it has been underway for a long time. What concerns me is that it will feed to the bickering that is going on between Russia, Washington and Brussels these days. I think it’s important to find ways that these modernization programs don’t make things worse in Europe.”
“Russia and the US have slightly different postures but they are both in the business of emphasizing importance of nuclear weapons in Europe and I think that is unfortunate,” the director said.
“We have certainly reduced the importance of nuclear weapons but sadly we are seeing the revitalization of the role of nuclear weapons that people are beginning to talk about them in a different way than they did ten years ago. I think state leaders must take extra steps to try and continue to reduce not only the numbers, but also the role of nuclear weapons,” Kristensen said.
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