US planning to station nukes in UK amid growing threat from Russia: Report

Under the proposal, the US is planning to station nuclear warheads three times the strength of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk in the UK, according to a report by The Telegraph.
US planning to station nukes in UK amid growing threat from Russia: Report
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

The US is planning to station nuclear weapons in the UK for the first time in 15 years amid growing fears of a war with Russia, The Telegraph reported, citing documents from the Pentagon. Under the proposal, the nuclear warheads are said to possess a destructive capacity thrice that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 and would be stationed at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

In 2008, the US removed its nuclear missiles from the UK after it felt that the Cold War threat from Russia had receded. Pentagon documents seen by The Telegraph showed procurement contracts for a new nuclear weapons facility at the Lakenheath airbase.

The development came amid warnings of a potential war between Russia and countries belonging to Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), of which the UK is a bloc member.

The planned establishment of US nuclear warheads in the UK is a part of a Nato-wide initiative to develop and upgrade nuclear sites in response to Russia's threats after Moscow invaded neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022.

Earlier this week, Gen Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing head of the British army, said 45,000 reservists and citizens should be readied for a possible war with Russia to strengthen its 74,000-strong ranks, according to The Guardian.

Sanders' calls for a citizen army were echoed by Admiral Rob Bauer, a senior Nato military official, and former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

WHAT'S THE PLAN?

These bombs, which are more than three times powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, are part of a modernisation effort, replacing older B61-3/4 bombs, and are expected to be delivered alongside the deployment of nuclear-capable F-35A Lightning II jets to the base.

According to the US Defence Department documents, plans for a "nuclear mission" would take place "imminently" at RAF Lakenheath, where nuclear weapons were stationed during the heights of the Cold War, The Telegraph reported.

The Pentagon documents revealed that new equipment has been ordered for the base, including ballistic shields designed to protect military personnel from attacks on “high value assets”. Construction on a new housing facility for US forces working on the site will begin in June.

Washington has already planned to station two squadrons of fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets, which have the ability to carry the bombs, at RAF Lakenheath.

US President Joe Biden said his country would “enhance our force posture in Europe to respond to the change in the security environment”.

In October last year, American officials sought Congress's permission for developing a new B61 bomb with a higher payload. They said having more powerful weapons would “provide the president with additional options against certain harder and large-area military targets”, according to The Telegraph.

RUSSIA'S LAST YEAR RESPONSE

"If this step is ever made, we will view it as escalation, as a step toward escalation that would take things to a direction that is quite opposite to addressing the pressing issue of pulling all nuclear weapons out of European countries," she said.

"In the context of the transition of the US and Nato to an openly confrontational course of inflicting a ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia, this practice and its development force us to take compensating countermeasures designed to reliably protect the security interests of our country and its allies," she added.

US WARHEADS ELSEWHERE

Under the Nato nuclear-sharing arrangement, the US has nuclear warheads currently stationed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

"The US routinely upgrades its military facilities in allied nations. Unclassified administrative budget documents often accompany such activities," a Pentagon official was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

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US planning to station nukes in UK amid growing threat from Russia: Report

"These documents are not predictive of, nor are they intended to disclose any specific posture or basing details. It is US policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location," the official said.

Source: India Today

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