DeutscheWelle & Jason Ditz/AntiWar.com & Masha Tsvetkova / The Independent – 2015-09-24 21:27:43
Reports: US Nuclear ‘Upgrades’ in Europe
(September 24, 2015) — Upgrades of six US air bases set to stock modernized B61 nuclear bombs are continuing in Turkey and Europe, according to US and German researchers. They claim Turkey’s Incirlik base stocks at least 50 such US weapons.
Modernizations of security perimeters around nuclear bomb vaults and infrastructure at the six US air bases were continuing apace, reported the Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) newspaper on Wednesday.
Moscow reacted on Wednesday saying it would take countermeasures if the US placed new nuclear weapons in Germany. “Unfortunately, if this step is implemented it may disrupt the strategic balance in Europe,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The US provided the bulk of the funding but extras such as runway refurbishments came out of the national budgets of the five ‘guest’ NATO partners — Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Congress boosted spending in 2011 after an air force review concluded that “most” US storage sites in Europe did not meet US defense department standards.
The FR cited the non-governmental Berlin Institute for Transatlantic Security (BITS) and findings of the nuclear-critical Federation of American Scientists (FAS) compiled from budgetary data given to the US Congress.
Nuclear Vaults Reinforced
FAS researcher Hans M. Kristensen said commercially available aerial photos showed new perimeter construction works around 12 aircraft shelter-vault complexes at the US Aviano air base in Italy and 21 such aircraft shelters at Incirlik, where the perimeter had double fencing and intrusion detection equipment.
Special weapons maintenance trucks were also being replaced and upgraded, he said.
Incirlik, close to war-torn Syria, has been used in recent months for US-led airstrikes on jihadist IS militants in Syria. Those activities have coincided with a Russian military buildup via Tartus, a Soviet-era naval base in Syria’s coastal Mediterranean region of Latakia.
50 Estimated at Incirlik
Kristensen estimated that Incirlik’s vaults currently held 50 B61 nuclear weapons. For the anti-IS operation, US F-16 jets had been relocated from Aviano, Italy to the Turkish NATO base under a “unique” arrangement.
“The Turks have declined US requests to permanently base a fighting wing at the [Incirlik] base,” he wrote.
Range Depends on Aircraft
The FR said the B61 nuclear bomb — first devised in the 1960s — had been “modernized” so it could be set to explode at various strengths of up to ten-times the devastation inflicted at Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
It also has the capability to be steered toward a target placed it between short-range “tactical” and long-range “strategic” atomic weapons, the FR said.”It now comes down to the range of the carrier aircraft,” it said.adding that congressional papers pointed to the development of a so-called B61-13 from 2038.
Refurbished Runway at Buchel
BITS author Orfried Nassauer said investments by Gemany’s Bundeswehr were scheduled at Buchel, widely believed to be the sole US nuclear-equipped air base in Germany.
The base’s runway — located in Germany ‘s hilly, western Eiffel region — was to be fully refurbished and fitted with a modern instrument-landing system next year, he said.
A member of German federal parliament’s defense committee, Social Democrat (SPD) Thomas Hitschler recently told the Rhein-Zeitung newspaper that the German government planned to invest 120 million euros at Buchel.
German public ZDF broadcasting’s investigative magazine “Frontal 21” reported on Monday that the US planned to stationed new atomic bombs at Buchel.
Removal Long Demanded
In 2009 and again in 2011, Germany’s then foreign minister Guido Westerwelle demanded the removal of all US nuclear weapons presumed to be at Buchel. The demand, made for decades by peace activists, was backed in a 2010 Bundestag resolution.
A “Wikileaks” paper showed later that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy advisor Christoph Heusgen distanced Berlin from such calls in talks with Washington.
The FR said Germany had never been allowed by the US to have access to the B21s. During the Cold War, German Tornado jets located at Buchel had trained with mock metal devices.
Upgrades Also in Belgium and Italy
The FAS’s Kristensen said security upgrades were also under way or planned at the US’ Operations Center-Command at Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium and a nuclear weapons vault support facility at another air base in Ghedi., Italy.
In July, Italian prosecutors said two arrested IS adherents, a Pakistani and a Tunisian, were suspected of listing Ghedi among their potential targets.
The prosecutors said, however, that the site was “never in danger” because the pair, based in Brescia in northern Italy, had not set their plans in motion.
Russia Warns of Retaliation
If US Sends New Nukes to Germany
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 23, 2015) — Tensions between the US and Russia are already at a near-term high in recent weeks, and look to be getting even worse amid new reports from Germany’s ZDF that the US intends to deploy new nuclear weapons to Germany and upgrade its nuclear infrastructure across Europe.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the move a “very serious step toward exacerbating tensions on the European continent,” and warned that if the US follows through on these plans Russia would carry out retaliatory countermeasures, adding more ballistic missiles to its exclave of Kaliningrad.
Kaliningrad’s location, adjacent to NATO members Lithuania and Poland, has made it a popular place for Russia to threaten retaliatory deployments, because such moves would starkly change the balance of power in Eastern Europe. During the dispute over US missile shield deployments along the Russian frontier, Russia similarly threatened to place Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad.
That’s the same thing they’re talking up today, and while they’re not going into details about numbers of variations, the fact that the current US deployment is itself nuclear in nature probably means Iskander-M ballistic missiles, capable of carrying 50 kT nuclear warheads, would be part of the deployment.
The ZDF report came simply out of publicly available US budgetary information, and publicized some deployments the administration clearly did not intend to make a matter of serious discourse.
The deployments are likely to also rankle Germany itself, because the deployment of Cold War-era nuclear arms was already highly controversial, and many Germans simply want the weapons of mass destruction removed, not upgraded.
Arms Race Fears as Russia Considers
Stationing Ballistic Missiles in Kaliningrad in Response
To Increased US Nuclear Threat in Germany
Masha Tsvetkova / The Independent
(September 23, 2015) — In a move that prompted fears of a return to a nuclear arms race in Europe, Moscow has announced that it could be forced to take “countermeasures” to a strengthened US nuclear threat in Germany by stationing ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said US plans could “alter the balance of power in Europe”.
Germany’s ZDF television channel has reported that the US intended to place 20 upgraded B61-12 nuclear bombs at BÃ¼chel Air Base later this year. ZDF said its information was based on US federal budget reports.
Mr Peskov said: “It’s another, unfortunately very serious, step towards exacerbating tensions on the European continent. Unfortunately, if this step is implemented — and we can say they are confidently advancing towards its implementation — it may disrupt the strategic balance in Europe and therefore will make Russia take corresponding countermeasures to re-establish the balance.
“It’s not a step towards strengthening stability, towards confidence building and enhancement of security in Europe.”
Those plans would reportedly include placing Ikander missiles in the Russian enclave. “A final decision will be taken after detailed analysis of the potential threat,” a Russian source told the Interfax news agency.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.