Poland says it is in talks to host US nuclear weapons

White House official denies knowledge of the issue

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 06 October 2022 06:38 BST
Vladimir Putin says Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons

Poland said it has spoken to the US about having Nato’s nuclear weapons on its territory amid growing alarm over Russia’s explicit threats of using nuclear arms in Ukraine.

Polish president Andrzej Duda said there was “a potential opportunity” for the country to take part in “nuclear sharing”.

“The problem, first of all, is that we don’t have nuclear weapons,” Mr Duda said in an interview with the Gazeta Polska newspaper on Wednesday.

“We have spoken with American leaders about whether the United States is considering such a possibility. The issue is open,” he added.

White House officials have, however, said they are not aware of the request being raised and referred further questions to the Polish government.

“We’re not aware of this issue being raised and would refer you to the government of Poland,” a US official said, according to Bloomberg.

Poland’s suggestion to host nuclear weapons on its soil is the latest example of growing fears over the use of nuclear weapons as the Biden administration and Nato seek to strike a balance between supplying Ukraine with weaponry and refraining from moves that could escalate the conflict to nuclear war.

While it is unclear what Poland is actually seeking in its request, observers said it could mean pilots from the host country being trained to carry out nuclear missions using US-provided nuclear warheads, among other things.

Nato members and its allies Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and Turkey host US nuclear weapons on their soil, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

A senior diplomat in Warsaw, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said hosting the US weapons could be in the interest of Poland as well the region and serve all of Europe’s security needs.

Mr Duda’s offer to host the weapons follows a move by Russia’s top ally Belarus to make changes in its constitution to allow the Kremlin to base and use nuclear weapons from its territory.

The potential demand has also been raised as the prospect of the use of nuclear weapons is estimated to be higher than at any time since the Cold War and possibly since the Cuban missile crisis 60 years ago.

Vladimir Putin raised the prospect anew when he said he would use “all available means” to defend Russian territory while declaring the annexation of four more Ukrainian regions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in April said Poland’s government “has recently caused deep concern: The line is extremely militant, anti-Russian, and the proposed actions, of course, can only lead to a further increase in tension on the continent”.

Deploying US nuclear weapons to Poland, a neighbour of Ukraine, could be a violation of Nato’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Nato-Russia Founding Act.

The latter states that the bloc will not deploy nuclear-capable arsenal on the territory of any new member.

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