In early June, the U.S. Air Force announced the deployment to Europe of three B-52 and two B-2 bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons to partake in military exercises with allies in the region. During the deployment, which will span approximately two weeks, the bombers will conduct training flights in the U.S. European Command area of operations.
One of the more glaring head-scratchers about U.S. nuclear policy is that we continue to forward deploy roughly 180 tactical B61s in Europe despite the fact that the military mission for which these weapons was originally intended – stopping a Soviet invasion of Western Europe because of inferior US/NATO conventional forces – no longer exists.
On Monday evening I was honored to participate in a debate hosted by the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on “The Role of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Responding to the Crisis in Crimea.”
The debate addressed the following proposition: “Resolved: In response to the Crimea crisis, the United States should reassess the strategic rationale for not placing NATO’s tactical nuclear weapons into Central and Eastern European states.”
Needless to say I don’t need to tell you where I came down. My sparring partner was Peter Doran of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), who took the affirmative view.
Earlier in the day on Monday NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters that he did not foresee any NATO request to move tactical nuclear weapons to central and eastern Europe.