Monday, September 22, 2014

US nuclear arsenal in Europe is likely to stay - Europe - Stripes

US nuclear arsenal in Europe is likely to stay - Europe - Stripes: Last summer in Berlin, President Barack Obama called for "bold reductions" in U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons to ease the risk of annihilation in Europe.

Obama was referring to the roughly 200 B61 nuclear bombs that the U.S. has deployed in five NATO nations stretching from the Netherlands to Turkey - and a Russian arsenal estimated at 2,000 tactical weapons.

But since last summer, that hopeful outlook has evaporated. Russia's incursions into Ukraine and nuclear threats made by Russian President Vladimir Putin have killed any chance that the U.S. would withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons anytime soon.

"Withdrawing our relatively few weapons would be the absolute wrong signal at this moment," said James Stavridis, the retired U.S. admiral who was NATO chief until 2013 and is now dean of the Fletcher School of international affairs at Tufts University.

"Throughout my period of command as the NATO supreme allied commander, my personal view was that it was time to consider withdrawing the weapons from Europe," he said. "However, given Russian activities of the past months and the potential for a return to a period of significant friction between Russia and the alliance, I now believe we should keep the weapons in Europe, despite the costs and risks associated with doing so."