America still holds 480 nuclear weapons in Europe, says survey

MORE THAN a dozen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, America still keeps 480 nuclear weapons in Europe, more than twice as many as previously believed, according to an authoritative new study.

The Washington-based Natural Resources Defence Council says the weapons are under US control and stored at eight bases in six countries - Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey. The weapons are all gravity bombs. Three hundred are fitted to be dropped by US planes, and 180 by planes from local air forces.

In Britain, 110 weapons are said to be stored at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, home to 5,000 US military personnel and three squadrons of F-15 aircraft.

Germany is host to the most, with 150 kept at three bases. A further 90 apiece are in Italy and Turkey, and 20 apiece in Belgium and the Netherlands. The report, compiled from documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, military literature, and material from NGOs and other sources, is in sharp contrast with official indications that US nuclear weapons in Europe total no more than 200 or so, after "significant reductions" in recent years.

Indeed, the previous study by the NRDC itself, a privately financed arms control group, put the number of such US weapons in Europe at between 150 and 200. That was in 1998.

At the height of the Cold War, the US had 7,300 short range weapons in Europe, but that fell steeply after arms control treaties of the late 1980s.

The new report, 102 pages long, challenges the entire rationale for keeping a nuclear arsenal of any size in Europe. Pentagon officials say they are part of Nato's "strategic deterrence mission" in the region, hinting that they could be employed to counter a non-conventional threat from countries such as Iran or Syria.

But the NRDC dismisses that reasoning as "obsolete and vague". It argues long range nuclear missiles based in the US render Europe-based ones superfluous. Indeed, the presence of the latter is if anything counterproductive - "an irritant" in relations with Russia, and a factor undermining Washington's efforts to prevent countries such as Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

In what may be no coincidence, the report appears as Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, meets his Nato counterparts in Nice for talks in which nuclear proliferation is to be a key topic. European members are divided on the issue.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee