Find Out Nuclear Targets in Europe (2024 Updated)

Shiva Singh
Credit: Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty

Brussels, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) – The shelter is located two stories below a modern steel production plant on the northern edge of Warsaw. The shelter contains gas masks, stretchers, first aid kits, and other items meant to assist civil defence leaders in surviving and guiding rescue operations in the event of a nuclear attack or other disasters.

On a map of Europe hanging on a wall, the Soviet Union can be seen, but there is no sign of an independent Ukraine. The musty smell may be picked up on old boots and outerwear. Let’s look at the nuclear targets in Europe.

What are the Nuclear Targets in Europe?

Around 150 American B-61 nuclear gravity bombs are stationed in five nations in Europe: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey. These countries are located on the European continent. The previous Italian president and former Dutch prime minister have verified the existence of these weapons.

Nuclear sharing is part of NATO’s defence strategy. In wartime, US soldiers defend non-nuclear nations’ nuclear weapons via a dual code system. The host nation and the US would have to authorise the weapons’ use aboard the former’s jets.

Eastern European nations were the first targets of these bombs. The practice became controversial, destabilising, and hazardous when the Cold War ended and these governments joined the EU and NATO.

These weapons are strongly opposed in Europe, especially by several host country governments. Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands have unsuccessfully requested the removal of US nuclear weapons.

Where are the nuclear targets in Europe?

The Kleine Brogel air base in Belgium, BĂĽchel Air Base in Germany, and Volkel air base in the Netherlands hold up to 20 nuclear weapons. Aviano and Ghedi air bases hold 70 bombs in Italy.

After years of controversy, 100 bombs were evacuated from RAF Lakenheath in East Anglia in 2008. This terminated Britain’s 50 years of US nuclear weapons.

Tension with Turkey

50 bombs are kept in Turkey’s Incirlik air base. It’s questionable to store such a massive nuclear weapons arsenal in such a dangerous zone. It’s worrisome that the installation is 70 miles from Syria.

Turkey is a NATO member and a US friend, but recent tensions have underlined the vulnerabilities of the existing position. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to dismantle the site in December 2019, leaving the nuclear weapons’ existence unknown.

Read More: Find Out Nuclear Targets in Ukraine (2022 Updated)

Violation of the NPT

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty violates US nuclear weapons in Europe (NPT). The NPT prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear nations, although Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey are all non-nuclear.

Since the 1960s, NATO has managed the UK’s nuclear weapons system. Since an attack on one NATO member state is considered an attack on all, the UK’s nuclear weapons might be deployed against a nation attacking (or threatening to attack) one of the alliance’s members. NATO opposes “no first use” of nuclear weapons.

However, the US maintains that transfer and control to non-nuclear armed nations do not occur until wartime when the treaty no longer applies. NATO’s “deterrence posture” rests on US nuclear weapons in Europe, according to the 2018 NATO summit.

Nuclear tactical weapons

These nuclear weapons are criticised for more than just being in Europe. Nuclear weapon type is also a major worry. Strategic nuclear weapons are larger and less “usable” than tactical nuclear weapons like the B61 bomb (such as the type the UK owns).

Tactical nuclear weapons are more susceptible to terrorist acquisition than strategic nuclear weapons because of their smaller size, higher quantities, broad distribution, and less sophisticated locking and safety technologies.

Upgrade

In 2013, the US government launched a Life Extension Programme for Europe’s B61 models, extending their lifespan by up to 30 years and improving their capabilities. The 2020 B61-12 can correctly steer and penetrate the ground. The bomb’s $8 billion price tag and adjustable yield show the US’s commitment to the nuclear-sharing system.

Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are upgrading their fighter bombers. Together, this boosts US nuclear capabilities in Europe.

Conclusion

Europe should be free of US tactical nuclear weapons. NPT compliance is ensured (Articles I and II). These weapons also encourage the dubious idea that non-nuclear nations may play nuclear roles for nuclear states.

This might also open the door to nuclear weapons reduction talks with Russia, which could affect international talks. The regions around US bomb bases would be safer if they were withdrawn. Removing all US/NATO nuclear weapons from Europe would aid global disarmament.

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Brussels Morning is a daily online newspaper based in Belgium. BM publishes unique and independent coverage on international and European affairs. With a Europe-wide perspective, BM covers policies and politics of the EU, significant Member State developments, and looks at the international agenda with a European perspective.
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Shiva is a professional digital marketer who covers the latest updates in the tech industry from across the globe. With an experience of over 5 years in the world of Information Technology, he likes to keep up with every major development and writes fact-based pieces backed by in-depth research.