The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament regretted today’s missed chance to remove US nuclear weapons from Europe after a key report on NATO’s future failed to recommend their removal . The report by the ‘group of experts’ led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is intended to lay the groundwork for NATO’s new ‘strategic concept’, to be agreed later this year.
Several European parliaments have called for the removal of nuclear weapons from their territory, most notably in the unanimous vote in the German Bundestag this March . Earlier this month German minister Werner Hoyer told delegates at the review of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty at the UN that “they no longer serve a military purpose and do not create security.”
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said “Removing these dangerous left-overs from the Cold War is the logical next step in Obama’s disarmament plan. European governments are echoing the overwhelming demand of public opinion which wants to see them gone, yet NATO is still talking about the need for “widely shared responsibility for deployment” of these awful weapons. They were designed for fighting a ‘limited’ nuclear war within the European ‘theatre of war’ – a scenario which is thankfully no longer credible. The fact that the aircraft assigned to carry these bombs can’t even reach the borders of NATO illustrates their defensive irrelevance, yet they still represent a tempting target for terrorists and pose an ongoing risk from accidents.
“The ‘nuclear weapons sharing’ arrangement by which the US locates more than 200 bombs in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey is a terrible blight on the global non-proliferation regime and opens European nations to legitimate charges of hypocrisy when opposing nuclear developments in other countries. That these ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons were not included in the recent US/Russian deal mean it is even more vital that European governments take action now to ensure NATO as a whole accepts that these weapons play no role in defending Europe. This must be reflected in a change to NATO’s new Strategic Concept when it is finalised at the Lisbon summit in November. There must be an agreement to return these bombs to the US, and for their decommissioning. We urge the new UK government to support this change, continuing the policy which saw US nukes removed from Britain around 2008.”
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For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.
The relevant section of the report reads as follows:
Nuclear Weapons Policy: Solidarity in Pursuit of Peace.
As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO should continue to maintain secure and reliable nuclear forces, with widely shared responsibility for deployment and operational support, at the minimum level required by the prevailing security environment. Any change in this policy, including in the geographic distribution of NATO nuclear deployments in Europe, should be made, as with other major decisions, by the Alliance as a whole.
The Strategic Concept should also affirm NATO’s full support for efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, ensure that nuclear materials are handled in a safe and secure manner, and make progress towards a world free from the fear of nuclear war. In this spirit, the Alliance has dramatically curtailed the types and numbers of sub-strategic nuclear forces in Europe and should welcome consultations with Russia in pursuit of increased transparency and further mutual reductions.