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Russia Remains the Only Target Country of NATO’s Nuclear Weapons

by Brian Cloughley, via Strategic Culture

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the world’s five “nuclear weapons states”, a description officially recognised in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which lays down that “each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices…”

It is apparent that the word ‘transfer’ involves ownership and not location, because the United States has transferred many nuclear weapons to countries which, although members of the US-NATO military alliance, are not nuclear weapons states. An analysis by the Nuclear Threat Initiative indicates that the US has positioned 160-200 B-61 nuclear warheads «at six bases in five NATO countries: Belgium (10-20), Germany (10-20), Italy (60-70), Netherlands (10-20), and Turkey (60-70)».

According to a NATO statement of December 2015, «A number of NATO member countries contribute a dual-capable aircraft (DCA) capability to the Alliance. These aircraft are available for nuclear roles at various levels of readiness – the highest level of readiness is measured in weeks. In their nuclear role, the aircraft are equipped to carry nuclear bombs and personnel are trained accordingly».

The claim that the readiness level is measured in weeks is intriguing, because, as indicated in the US-NATO Readiness Action Plan of October 2015, the entire alliance is gearing up for war against Russia and, among other blatantly provocative initiatives, is «Raising the readiness and capabilities of the Multinational Corps Northeast Headquarters in Szczecin, Poland and enhancing its role as a hub for regional cooperation».

NATO’s policy of confrontation with Russia is causing some disquiet in western Europe, whose citizens are kept in the dark about the depth and demands of the military alliance to which their countries are committed, such as their aircraft being «equipped to carry nuclear bombs». It is policy that the US B-61 nuclear weapons stored in Europe are delivered to targets by aircraft of the Belgian, Dutch, German and Italian air forces.

NATO declares that «Nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defence alongside conventional and missile defence forces». This strategy was approved at its 2012 Summit in Chicago, but had been evident for many years and had been continued in spite of the ending of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, a quarter of a century ago. Since then NATO has maintained a firm nuclear posture, but the question that was never asked in the post-Cold War years of NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders was «against whom are your nuclear weapons directed?»

There could be only one target country. What nation other than Russia could possibly interest the US-NATO military alliance? It is unlikely that the Brussels headquarters of NATO, the regional office of the Pentagon, is considering using nuclear weapons against any other country in the world. Even in the course of its catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Libya it couldn’t have possibly considered a nuclear option.

Large numbers of US nuclear weapons systems were withdrawn from Europe at the end of the Cold War, but many remain, in the embrace of NATO, which Brussels uncompromisingly states will «remain a nuclear alliance» for «as long as nuclear weapons exist».

At the manifestly anti-Russian NATO Summit in Warsaw in July it was noted by Arms Control that «Leaders of the 28 member countries of NATO strongly criticized Russian nuclear behaviour and reaffirmed the security role played by US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. The sections of the alliance statement, or communiqué, devoted to nuclear weapons are nearly three times as long as those issued at the 2014 summit in the United Kingdom». It is not surprising that Russia was criticised — but it is NATO that has been performing nuclear antics.

For many years before the 2016 Warsaw summit, NATO had been deploying aircraft all round Europe that were capable of delivering nuclear weapons against Russia. The only difference in recent times is that NATO, as recorded by Arms Control in June 2016, «is beefing up its nuclear posture. Polish F-16s participated for the first time on the sidelines of a NATO nuclear strike exercise at the end of 2014. As a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, four B-52 bombers flew a nuclear strike mission over the North Pole and the North Sea in a bomber exercise in April 2015. Although these planes did not have nuclear weapons on board, they were equipped to carry 80 nuclear air-launched cruise missiles».

It goes further than that, because NATO’s most recent nuclear-associated deployments to the Baltic have involved aircraft from Belgium’s 10th Tactical Wing which is based at Kleine Brogel Air Base and flies US-supplied F-16 nuclear-capable strike aircraft.  NATO reported that four of them are currently conducting missions from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, in order «to guard the Baltic skies against unauthorised overflights» and that their duties included «intercepting Russian aircraft flying in international airspace at the Baltic borders».

According to NATO, the Mission of the 10th Tactical Wing is «to generate air power effects in the full operational spectrum by putting into action the best combat ready people and equipment to execute or support both conventional and nuclear operations in a joint, national or multinational environment, anytime and anywhere, in the most proficient, safe and efficient manner». So it sends four of 10 Wing’s nuclear-capable F-16s, flown by nuclear-delivery trained pilots to Estonia to guard the Baltic skies.

In Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia the Alliance has established «NATO Force Integration Units» which are advanced military headquarters whose Mission is «to improve cooperation and coordination between NATO and national forces, and prepare and support exercises and any deployments needed». The relentless expansion of US-NATO forces right up to Russia’s borders continues apace, with formation of a «new standing Joint Logistic Support Group Headquarters, to support deployed forces».

NATO is on a war footing, and has made it clear that «nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities». The Belgian F-16 deployments, deliberately and provocatively in a most sensitive area on Russia’s borders, together with creation of advanced military control organisations in eight countries, have been authorised and greeted with approval by western governments whose citizens have little understanding that the west’s policy of confrontation is increasing tension day by day.

Russia has no intention of invading any of the Baltic nations, or, indeed, any other country. It has no interest whatever in becoming engaged in conflict that could result only in vast expenditure, no territorial gain of any value, and destruction of much-valued trade and other commercial arrangements.

Yet NATO’s nuclear capabilities are to be boosted by an $8 billion upgrade to the B-61 nuclear bombs held in the US and five other NATO nations. This escalation in nuclear capabilities is consistent with NATO’s deployment of nuclear-capable aircraft to countries on Russia’s borders, and it can be hoped only that next year Washington will call a halt to the escalating confrontation caused by a military organisation that the President-elect perceptively called “obsolete”.

Brian Cloughley is a British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan.


  1. What about India,Pakistan,North Korea and Israel? Israel has Nuclear Missiles and Tactical Nuclear Artillery, given to them by Bill Clinton and developed at Dimona.The only Nuclear Power in the Middle East.

    • John says

      Israel – thanks to Germany – now has a fleet of nuclear-ready submarines with the capacity to carry out a nuclear strike anywhere in the world.
      I believe North Korea has – or will shortly have – a similar capacity.
      What a wonderful world our present political class is bequeathing to the younger generation!
      I hope young people realise it is the 1 per cent of the 1 per cent of the 1 per cent who are responsible.
      Not us!

  2. John says

    What is the forum through which the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is enforced?
    Can not Russia go to that forum and ask them to rule on the legitimacy of US actions?
    Could not Belgium/Brussels be brought before it to explain its conduct as a non-nuclear state?
    We have been here before. In the 1980s a US air force general made the astonishing admission that tactical battlefield nuclear forces were located in Europe to act as a trip-wire between the then US and USSR so that if nuclear conflict were to break out, the damage could be restricted to western Europe while the US and USSR negotiated to avoid setting off strategic long-range inter-continental missile strikes against one another.
    This led to the creation of the European Nuclear Disarmament (END) movement when people in Europe realised that their role – aided and abetted by European politicians – was to act as a sacrificial lamb while the superpowers settled their differences with one another, potentially leaving most of Europe uninhabitable for many years to come. It seems there is a very real need for END to become re-established.
    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Nuclear_Disarmament.

    • As you so quintessentially pointed out, the EU states being gifted nuclear armaments seem too stupid to realise that Russia will have no choice but to neutralise the threat on it’s borders and once again, Europe will be the sacrificial lambs to the power mad crazies in the US.
      Many thanks for your contribution and especially the link.

  3. Quiet Si says

    Your penultimate paragraph states Russia has no interest in invading any of the Baltic nations or any other country. Where is your evidence for this statement? The Baltic states themselves are certainly not that confident of Russia’s intentions. You should think that recent events in Georgia and Ukraine may give cause for concern. Why Europe or the US would wish vast expenditure on a war is another reason you could be mistaken. The problem is Putin’s regime is suffering economic setbacks, having silenced dissident voices under the pretext of national security, ‘the enemy is within us and without’, the only way to go in keeping the people onside is to ratchet up the threat. If we see a commitment by Russia’s rulers to combat corruption , support democracy and free speech and economic reforms which may disadvantage the oligarchs and ruling cliques then the politics of paranoia aided by ‘useful idiots’ will disappear.

    • Boo Radley says

      How could one prove a negative?

      In everything else you wrote in this comment, you could substitute the USA for Russia and make a lot more sense.

    • Why did Saskashvilli declare war on Russia? Why did the NATO generals allow him to slaughter innocent civilians in Ossetia? Are you suggesting that a murderous tyrant should have been allowed to commit war crimes against innocent civilians, because by their total lack of interest in that murderous assault, NATO were indeed, complicit in the events there. Do you truly believe that Putin had no right to intervene on behalf of those civilians, who want Saskashvilli for War Crimes? We in Britain fought against the monstrous nazi regime of Hitler only to have neo nazis installed again in Eastern Europe in Ukraine, courtesy of US aggression in pursuit of war against Russia. The neo nazi Ukraine started murdering and ethnically cleansing the Donbass and threatening Crimea, who by the way, had every legal right to denounce the installation of “Yats” and neo nazi Poroshenko after the illegal coup and you would have people believe that Russia is the aggressor?
      Guess you left your brain on your pillow this morning, probably every morning, but you really need to get your head out from wherever it is parked and quit with the horse manure. It fools only the gullible and the neo liberalist/neocon thinking Russophobes.

      • Quiet Si says

        Why the need for abuse? I think simplistic sloganeering may be appreciated in some forums but usually the situation is more nuanced.

        • Quiet Si:”The problem is Putin’s regime … having silenced dissident voices under the pretext of national security, ‘the enemy is within us and without’, the only way to go in keeping the people onside is to ratchet up the threat. ”
          I also think simplistic sloganeering may be appreciated in some forums and there is nothing nuanced about your unevidenced opinion – a case of the pot calling the kettle black. If you can’t stand the heat then stay out of the kitchen – how’s that for sloganeering?
          When certain individuals make outlandish claims based on msm propaganda it tends to get people’s backs up, it’s the reason MOST of us are on this site. What’s your reason?

          • Quiet Si says

            It seems that all of you on this site are Orwellian in your admiration for all things Russian and the policies of that country and it’s rulers. You seem unable to exercise any critical or analytical faculties in that direction, whereas many can see problems and imperfections, failures and faults in western and us actions it doesn’t blind us to the fact that on balance millions would prefer to associate with that country and live there but few wish to move to Moscow as it were. It looks like a contrived campaign of Russia good, US bad, in all circumstances. This is the Putin’s puppets playground.

            • John says

              Your critique is incorrect.
              I have questioned the content of this site on a number of occasions.
              Unlike The Guardian, my comments remained on the site.
              Other contributors have also entered into arguments too,
              I am neither a Russophilic nor a Russophobic individual.
              I am neither a Putinophilic nor a Putinophobic individual.
              I use this site as a corrective for all the MSM propaganda.
              The glaring double standards and rank hypocrisy of almost the entire western media in their treatments of terrorists in Syria and Iraq speaks utter volumes for any discerning ear to hear and/or eye to see.
              The latest announcement in the US that they are going to send more troops to Syria must surely strike anyone anywhere as utter madness.
              Unless, that is – Si – you would want to defend such stupidity?
              Are you yet another Democrat neo-traitor war-hawk?
              Are you ready to risk the world just to confront Putin and Russia?

        • archie1954 says

          Some people liken truth to abuse. I hope you are not one of them.

    • Si you seem a bit lost, that’s why everybody is giving you crap here. The Baltic States are feeling worried about Russia? Give me a break holmes! Also odd the way you describe the Putin’s Russia, that Putin’s ‘regime’ is silencing opposition, under threat, etc. Like others say that is what the USA/EU is doing. But more to the point Russia is in fact under threat. You seemed to have missed the boat entirely. It is not Russia that is invading westwards; rather it is USA/EU/NATO that is ever pushing, encircling Russia eastwards.

      • Quiet Si says

        Who is holmes? Having visited the Baltics recently for work, anecdotal evidence (coffee houses, restaurants and bars) is that the population and business people are far more worried about Russia as a malign influence than the US and w. Europe. Why do the vast majority like open society and the idea of US values but not Russia?

        • Yes, we all know that WMSM works. Tens (possibly hundreds?) of billions of dollars are devoted to achieving the results you report.

        • Frank says

          It would be helpful if you could put forward some sound reason or reasons why Russia should have any interest in invading the Baltic states. Take a look at the map, Russia has no shortage of land or, dare I say, living space. What is so special about the Baltic states that makes them an irresistible target for a Russian takeover? These states have been actually impoverished by EU membership and large numbers of the younger more ambitious and talented people have left – particularly in Latvia – seeking some sort of gainful employment in western europe. What is the future of countries such as these which lose their young people and become increasingly populated by pensioners; big demographic problems ahead. Russia has obviously no intention of burdening itself with these economic basket cases. If the population and business classes feel threatened by ‘Russian aggression’ I would suggest that they are suffering from a surfeit of paranoia and victimhood complex. Similarly, if they are so enamoured of American values – as no doubt epitomised by the Clinton dynasty, Goldman Sachs, the military industrial complex and a rapacious imperial juggernaut raining terror, mayhem and mass murder down on the world – that is their business, they can perhaps travel to their chosen land of the ‘exceptional people’ to test the theory out perhaps. I think it was the French politician and statesman, Clemenceau, who once opined: ‘America is the first society which passed from barbarism to decadence without the intervening phase of civilisation.’ A little bit unfair perhaps but I see his point.

          The fact that you like America better than Russia does not mean that Russia is going to invade any time soon, or in fact at all. You over-rate the importance of the Baltics – states whose combined populations aren’t even as big as London’s.

        • Quiet Si. Anecdotal? I speak with Russians and Donbass/Ukraine people through a translator and what I get from them is just a tad different from the misrepresentative reversal of facts the billion pound US/EU and UK propaganda industry presents daily in their pursuit of demonizing all things Russian or any failure to tow the neocon line.
          Either you are excruciatingly naive or there is another reason you are here on this site.
          As I said, the anti Russian propaganda is everywhere trying to silence those who would seek truth with lies.

        • archie1954 says

          They still equate Russia with the USSR! However they will learn that Russia is a nascent democracy, has a capitalist economy and professes Christianity at the governing level (the President)!

    • Russia provoked neither the Ossetia attack by Georgia nor the unconstitutional coup in Kiev, which immediately threatened the rights of the overwhelmingly Russian population of Crimea (as well as those of the Russian population of Donbass).

      Given the well-known facts about both of these NATO attempts to provoke Russia, your reference to them as evidence that the latter cannot be trusted is in particularly bad faith as it completely inverts the truth.

      There is no merit to it whatsoever, as there is no merit to the anti-Russia hysteria the Baltics keep fanning for their own political purposes, not the least of which is the desire to forestall any honest confrontation with the real history of those countries, whose traces are seen all too clearly in the current resurgence of neo-Nazism in the Baltics.

    • archie1954 says

      “Recent events”? I’m afraid you are very ignorant of the so called recent events in Georgia and Ukraine! Both of those violent incidents were organized and supported by the US as provocations against Russia. In the Georgia case it was Georgia, believing that it was covered by the US, that attacked South Ossetia in the middle of the night and killed Russian peacekeepers along with Ossetian civilians. Russia simply retaliated, nothing more! In Ukraine the American European State Department representative, Victoria Nuland and the American ambassador to Ukraine conspired to oust the duly elected president of Ukraine, which they did violently. Once more a clear provocation against Russia. Don’t bother spewing any more American gross lies and propaganda. We’re on to that garbage!

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