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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 77, May/June 2004

Tactical Nuclear Weapons:
Europe's Redundant WMD

Hugh Beach

This paper examines the case for the withdrawal of US tactical nuclear weapons (TNW)1 from European soil on the following grounds:

TNW in the Cold War

During the twenty years after 1945 the US and Soviet Union found ways of making nuclear warheads small enough to be used as battlefield weapons. These quickly evolved into a variety of different shapes and sizes. Air forces were equipped with bombs and air-to-surface guided missiles. Navies, in addition to aircraft bombs, developed nuclear depth charges and anti-submarine rockets. Armies were equipped with nuclear artillery of various calibres and free-flight rockets. Ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs), landmines and surface-to-air defence missiles were all given nuclear warheads. The US even fielded a nuclear mortar, Davy Crockett, until it realised that this was more dangerous to its own troops than to an enemy.

Tactical doctrine evolved to match, and in the 1950s and 1960s it was assumed that in any war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact nuclear weapons would be used from the outset. During the 1970s and 1980s, however, the practical limitations became increasingly apparent. Tactical planning in NATO came to rely less on the early use of nuclear weapons and the more outlandish of them were quietly withdrawn. These included the nuclear air defence missiles and landmines, nuclear versions of GLCMs and naval anti-submarine rockets.

The end of the Cold War saw dramatic reductions in TNW on both sides, brought about not by treaty but by presidential declaration. The first was by President George Bush on September 27, 1991.2 He committed the US to eliminating its entire inventory of ground-launched short-range nuclear weapons (i.e. all nuclear artillery shells and short-range ballistic missile warheads) and to withdraw all TNW from surface ships, attack submarines and land-based naval aircraft (i.e. all nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles from ships and submarines, all nuclear bombs from aircraft carriers and all nuclear depth charges from aircraft carriers and land-based patrol aircraft).

Many of these warheads were to be destroyed; the remainder placed in secure storage ashore. On October 5, 1991, in response to these US undertakings, President Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would destroy all nuclear artillery ammunition and nuclear warheads for tactical missiles. Nuclear warheads for anti-aircraft missiles would be removed from army units and some destroyed. All nuclear mines would be eliminated. All TNW would be removed from surface ships and multi-purpose submarines. These, as well as weapons from ground-based naval aviation, would be stored centrally and some destroyed.3 On January 29, 1992 these Soviet commitments were re-confirmed by President Yeltsin on behalf of Russia.4

In June 1992 the French decided to cancel production of a tactical nuclear missile known as Hadès5 and Britain announced that its ships and aircraft would no longer carry tactical nuclear warheads.6

While the legal status of these undertakings may be open to question,7 there is little serious doubt that they were implemented. By December 1991 South Korea was declared free from US nuclear weapons.8 On July 2, 1992 President Bush declared that all ground-launched and naval TNW had been returned to US territory.9 By 1993 NATO had reduced the number of nuclear weapons available for its sub-strategic forces in Europe by 85 per cent. By 1994 the US army had been completely denuclearised.10

According to a detailed study carried out for the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), between 1991 and 2001 the number of operational TNW in the hands of the US armed forces reduced from 7,165 to 1,670 (i.e. by more than three quarters); the number of nuclear storage sites more than halved and the number of nuclear-certified units reduced by eighty five percent. Progress has also been made in destroying the TNW no longer needed.11

Much less precise figures are available for Russian forces, but within a few months it had been announced that all TNW had been withdrawn from Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States, Kazahkstan and the Central Asian republics.12 The UNIDIR study estimates that between 1991 and 2001 the number of deployed Russian TNW was reduced from more than 15,000 to 3,590 - a similar percentage reduction to that achieved by the US.13 In August 1998 the British government announced that all British free-fall nuclear bombs had been dismantled14 and in the same year Hadès disappeared from the French inventory.15

In the 1994 edition of his compendium on arms control Jozef Goldblat said of these developments: "Because of their small size, large numbers and widespread dispersion, tactical nuclear weapons cannot be kept under strict supervision. Maintaining command and control over such weapons in a wartime situation would be particularly difficult: the fear that they may be overrun by an enemy early in a conventional armed conflict could prompt local commanders to resort to their early use and start a nuclear war unintended by political leaders. The unilateral undertakings to reduce or eliminate tactical nuclear weapons, especially those assumed by the United States and the Soviet Union, marked an important change in the policies of the nuclear powers. They amounted to a formal recognition that nuclear weapons were no longer useful for war fighting."16

Regrettably, in his 2002 revision of this book he has been compelled to modify that conclusion: "They could be understood as an indirect recognition that nuclear weapons were no longer useful for war fighting, even though the possibility of using TNW remained as component of the military doctrines of the nuclear-weapon powers."17

It is important to examine why.

NATO nuclear doctrine and forward basing

The classical NATO nuclear policy emerged in a series of "guidelines" put out between 1967 and 1972.18 The aim was to defend at three levels: direct defence (which meant conventional defence) against a non-nuclear attack for as long as possible: controlled escalation through the use of TNW, and finally general nuclear response if all else failed. These guidelines, developed under the general rubric of "flexible response" coupled with the overt acceptance of "first use" by NATO as a last resort, were devised at a time when Soviet conventional forces in western Europe outnumbered NATO's by a factor of three to one or more.19

The dismemberment of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, followed by the expansion of NATO, has meant that the ratio of conventional forces as between Russia and NATO has been more than reversed. It might have been expected that this fact, coupled with recognition that nuclear weapons were 'no longer useful for war fighting', would lead to some reconsideration of this doctrine. But although there has been endless debate among academics and expert commentators on the pros and cons of a policy of "no first use" of nuclear weapons, no such change has taken place.20

Mr Hoon, British Secretary of State for Defence, in a written answer to a parliamentary question on July 11, 2002, said: "A policy of no first use of nuclear weapons would be incompatible with our and NATO's doctrine of deterrence, nor would it further nuclear disarmament objectives. We have made clear, as have our NATO allies, that the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote. Our overall strategy is to ensure uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the exact nature of our response, and thus to maintain effective deterrence."21

This makes it clear that NATO's policy still remains one of flexible response, involving the possible first use of nuclear weapons as a last resort.

Even more surprising is that, as a counterpart to this doctrine, US nuclear weapons are still held ready for use on the territory of six non-nuclear members of NATO and in the UK. These arrangements date from the late 1950s and early 1960s when bilateral Programmes of Cooperation were concluded between these countries and the US, most of which remain in force today. The weapons are stored in specially constructed vaults on twelve airfields: three each in Germany and Turkey; two in Italy, and one each in Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and the UK.22 The weapons are B-61 gravity bombs, delivered by strike aircraft, with an adjustable yield of between 1 and 345 kilotons.

All the strike aircraft are dual capable, being specially equipped for nuclear munitions in addition to their normal role. The crews are trained and exercised in peacetime for their possible nuclear missions. The nuclear weapons are all owned by the US and in peacetime they remain under the sole control of the US Air Force. They would be transferred to the partner nations only in the event of war. The vaults have a total capacity of 360 weapons but it is believed that the holding of live weapons is about half this, say 150-180 bombs. One vault on each base contains training weapons to exercise ground procedures and flight training. The vaults would have to be refurbished in 2005 to keep them operational till 2018. The costs to the US Air Force of providing and storing the weapons and to the allied air forces of owning and operating the aircraft are said to be "extraordinarily high".23

Common sense would suggest that both the policy and practice of "nuclear sharing" are out of date and should be scrapped. Why has this not happened? One aim of the policy has been to reassure the non-nuclear member states of NATO that they have a voice in the process of nuclear planning and decisionmaking. The Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) was founded in 1966 to ensure that the interests of NATO's non-nuclear members would be safeguarded after the entry into force of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Since 1979 the NPG has been open to all NATO members, giving equal standing to each.

Clearly, however, just as any decision by NATO to use nuclear weapons would be subject to unanimity in the alliance, so nuclear deterrence equally protects all member states. It does not depend on a member state storing nuclear weapons on its territory or being able to launch them in time of war. Canada ended its participation in nuclear sharing in 1989. Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Spain have always refused to allow the stationing of nuclear weapons on their territory in peacetime. The same protection extends to the new members of NATO alongside formal undertakings that there will be no deployment of nuclear weapons on their soil, no storage vaults constructed for these weapons, no provision of nuclear capable aircraft or training of aircrew and no Programmes of Cooperation with these countries.

Another traditional argument linked the deployment of US troops to the presence of US nuclear weapons on the basis of "no nukes - no troops". If this argument ever had any merit other than as a slogan, it certainly has none now. As explained above, there are no longer any US nuclear weapons in Japan or South Korea, and yet their troops remain. Nor was there (in public at least) any discussion of deploying nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia as a condition for deploying US forces there. It seems obvious that the non-nuclear allies in NATO could withdraw from the present forward basing arrangements without any fear of losing influence over NATO nuclear policy, or being criticised for shirking their share of nuclear roles, risks and responsibilities. Still less need this encourage the withdrawal of US troops from Europe. The US military is already discussing provision of lighter and more mobile units and stationing them in less expensive countries - a move which Europeans ought to welcome.24

It follows that the continued presence of US TNW in Europe (including in Turkey) is due more to institutional paralysis than to logic: the desire to demonstrate the US's continued commitment to European security and some vague concept of risk and burden sharing among NATO allies. As Mr. Hoon said in a written answer to the House of Commons on February 1, 2002: "Some US nuclear weapons remain based in the UK in accordance with long-standing NATO policy. Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and North American members of the Alliance."25

It would be more rational to argue that Europe and the US share a common interest in reducing the thousands of tactical nuclear warheads in Europe left over from the cold war. Nearly all of these, as we have seen, are Russian. As long ago as 1997, in Helsinki, Russia and the US mooted further measures to reduce tactical nuclear systems. But nothing has come of them. If the six non-nuclear members of NATO who currently train for a tactical nuclear role were ready to give this up it could open the way for repatriating all the remaining US TNW. This would meet Russia's long-standing wish to rid European territory of nuclear weapons within range of its territory. It could act as an important confidence building measure, and encourage further mutual reductions in TNW. In view of the US's acute reluctance to enter into fresh treaty commitments, an exchange of unilateral announcements might again be the best method. Meanwhile, increased transparency in this area is a necessary first step.26

Mini-nukes, bunker-busters and the 2001 US Nuclear Posture Review

Great concern has been aroused by the US Nuclear Posture review (NPR) submitted to Congress on December 31, 2001, of which excerpts have become publicly available.27 It establishes a New Triad consisting of:

These are bound together with enhanced command, control and information systems. In his covering letter to Congress, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld said that the result would be to make the US less dependent than it has been in the past on nuclear forces to provide its offensive deterrent capability. But many of the proposals in the report suggest, on the contrary, a greater emphasis on nuclear weapons. For instance:

Taken together these proposals clearly imply a renewed willingness to regard nuclear weapons as useful and indeed usable weapons, not least in a tactical context. Concerns have focussed on two projects in particular: "bunker-busting" nuclear weapons and "mini-nukes".

The case for concentrating on the defeat of hardened and deeply buried targets (HDBTs) rests on the alleged existence of over 1,400 underground facilities, known or suspected, for use by potential enemies as command centres, refuges or stores for missiles and nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The depth of these structures, together with their steel and concrete reinforcement, calls for highly accurate intelligence and precise weapon delivery. They may prove invulnerable to destruction by conventional weapons.29

In 1997 the US added an earth-penetrating version of the B61 bomb to its nuclear arsenal. Known as the B61-11 this munition has a yield of between 0.3 and 340 kilotons, contained in a needle-shaped case made of depleted uranium and dropped without a parachute. Tests have shown, however, that it could penetrate only about 20 feet into dry earth when dropped from 40,000 feet. This means it could not destroy very deeply buried bunkers or caves. Nor is there any prospect that the radioactivity of the weapon's nuclear burst could be contained.30

According to one well-founded calculation, a weapon twice the length of the B61-11, even if accelerated by a rocket, could not penetrate more than about 80 feet. The fallout produced by a one-kiloton warhead at that depth would kill everyone on the surface within a radius of about half a mile in still air. Wind could carry it for tens of miles.31 The new warhead would apparently be designed 'with a much lower yield ... producing less fallout by a factor of ten or twenty'.32 Nevertheless, no-one should be under the illusion that the use of such a nuclear weapon would not result in immense lethal fallout.

The case for "mini-nukes" in general is less well defined. The Pentagon is said to be seeking a completely new warhead design with a yield of 5 kilotons or less. This could address one or more of the requirements set out in the NPR "to attack mobile and re-locatable targets, to defeat chemical or biological agents, to improve accuracy and limit collateral damage".33 It is said that to rely on high-yield strategic weapons for such purposes would be self-deterring and the development of mini-nukes could ensure flexibility in decision making.

At present, US legislation prohibits the research or development of any nuclear weapon of five kilotons or less.34 However, on November 7, 2003, the House-Senate Conference Committee reached agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (H.R. 1588). It decided to repeal the ban on research of low-yield nuclear weapons, but stipulated that the Department of Energy is not allowed to perform any development work until authorised by Congress. It granted the administration's request for $15 million for a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) and authorised $6 million for low-yield nuclear weapons research (Advanced Weapons Concepts Initiative) as requested by the administration. The House-Senate Conference Committee on the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (H.R. 2754) reached somewhat different decisions in that it cut $7.5 million from the Administration's request for the RNEP programme and also stipulated that $4 million of the $6 million dedicated to the Advanced Weapons Concept programme would not be available until the DOE submits a detailed report to Congress on future nuclear reductions.35

The RNEP project, like that for mini-nukes, would be doubly unwelcome if used as the trigger for renewed nuclear testing. So far it seems that, while the US is not likely to resume nuclear testing in the next few years, there will be money for enhanced test readiness and increased pressure to resume full-scale tests.36 Any such resumption would contravene the US's obligations under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which it has signed but not ratified.

Negative Security Assurances and the Practice of Deliberate Ambiguity

All five recognised nuclear-weapon states have given undertakings not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT. Known as Negative Security Assurances (NSAs), these presently take the form of political commitments made in 1995 and formally acknowledged by the UN Security Council in Resolution 984.37 Although they are now regarded as nuclear weapon possessors, India, Pakistan and Israel are not covered by these assurances since they are not parties to the NPT. North Korea has said it no longer regards itself as bound by the NPT. The other countries listed in the NPR as liable to give rise to "immediate contingencies" - Iran, Libya and Syria - are all plainly covered by the NSAs.

Nevertheless senior US officials in several administrations have refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in response to attacks with chemical or biological weapons. During the 1990-91 Gulf war President Bush wrote to Saddam Hussein with a thinly veiled threat: "The United States will not tolerate the use of chemical and biological weapons...The American people would demand the strongest possible response."38

In April 1996, Secretary of Defense William Perry, writing about a suspect Libyan chemical weapons facility at Tarhuna said that: "[if] some nation were to attack the US with chemical weapons, then they would have to fear the consequences of a response from any weapon in our inventory. ...we could make a devastating response without the use of nuclear weapons but we would not forswear that possibility."39

On February 22, 2002 State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, having precisely set out the terms of the NSAs previously given by the US, went on to say: "If a weapon of mass destruction is used against the United States or its allies we will not rule out any specific type of military response."40

The doublespeak involved in these conflicting stances has traditionally been defended as deliberate ambiguity. While continuing to sign on to the NSAs as a necessary means of maintaining support for non-proliferation, the US has wanted to keep its opponents guessing as to how it would respond to chemical or biological attack. As an official explained in 1996: "We think the ambiguity involved in the issue of nuclear weapons contributes to our own security, keeping any potential adversary who might use either chemical or biological [weapons] unsure of what our response might be.41

More recently it seems that the veil of ambiguity has been to some extent set aside. According to a report in The Washington Times a classified document signed by President Bush on September 14 2002 said: "The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force - including potentially nuclear weapons - to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, its forces abroad, and friends and allies."42 In a public version of the same directive, issued on December 11, 2002, the reference to nuclear weapons has been blurred slightly by saying "through resort to all of our options" but the message is the same.

Is the increased usability of nuclear weapons for real?

Nuclear analyst William Arkin tells us that in the US Strategic Command in Omaha and at the Pentagon "target lists are being scrutinised, options are being pondered and procedures are being tested to give nuclear armaments some role in the new US doctrine of 'pre-emption'." He says that current planning focusses on two possible uses for nuclear weapons: attacking facilities located so deep underground that they might be impervious to conventional explosives and thwarting the use of weapons of mass destruction.43 These closely match the roles we have just discussed in connection with the NPR. How seriously should we take the possibility that all this is designed not simply to bring pressure on a rogue regime (which is to say essentially bluff) but is to be regarded as practical politics?

The first point to register is that the weapons we are discussing are by definition tactical. Militarily they are of limited and local effect. They do not have to bear the whole weight of strategic nuclear deterrence - that ultimate sanction wielded by nuclear weapons states. Even the lesser "pre-strategic" role of conveying a final warning is not part of their function.44 During the heyday of tactical nuclear planning in NATO (during the 1950s and 60s) target analysis for TNW concentrated on the blunting of dangerous enemy thrusts, the attack of troop concentrations (where the ability of neutron flux to penetrate armour and dug-in infantry positions with overhead cover was considered particularly useful), the destruction of bridges and the blocking of defiles (all but impossible by conventional weapons before the arrival of precision guidance) and the attack of dispersed, relatively soft targets such as formation headquarters, anti-aircraft sites, supply dumps and communication nodes.45

At this time NATO was said to possess some 7,000 TNW in Europe and any Warsaw Pact invasion force could indeed have presented that many targets. The Warsaw Pact, in its turn, was said to have several thousand TNW. The absurdity of supposing that a tactical nuclear exchange on this scale could persist for more than a few hours before dissolving in chaos was surprisingly slow to sink in.

Such a target set now has a very faded look. This is not because the wars of today do not present such targets. The Taliban blocking approaches to Kabul, and the Iraqi Republican Guard defending Baghdad could be said to be suitable for attack by F-15 or F-16 aircraft using B61 bombs; or, as discussed earlier, by the mini-nukes believed to be under consideration for attacking mobile and re-locatable targets, with improved accuracy and less collateral damage. But in every such case modern precision weapons coupled with "carpet bombing" by B-52s, tank-busting runs by A-10s and the use of C-130 gun-ships offer a far more cost-effective solution, "minus the fallout". And it need hardly be pointed out that the capture of a city that is being defended from house to house is as unsuitable a task for TNW as it is possible to imagine.

The notion of "bunker-busting" has superficial plausibility but is beset with practical difficulties. How is one to determine the location of such bunkers with the necessary pinpoint accuracy - unless of course our own troops are already there, in which case better methods might suggest themselves. What is to be done if the bunkers have been deliberately located under schools, hospitals or apartment blocks? How can one be sure which bunkers are occupied anyway? If the target to be attacked is believed to contain chemical, biological or nuclear weapons material, how can one be sure of incinerating it all, rather than distributing it in active form over a large area?

Still more implausible is the notion of using TNW in response to enemy use of chemical or biological weapons, as discussed in the previous section of this report. If the aim were to retaliate upon the source of these weapons one would either have to trace the missile launchers (a notoriously difficult task in regard to shorter range missiles) or, in the case of bombs or crop-spray aircraft, to attack their bases, which are not a lucrative target for TNW. If, more plausibly, the aim is simply to punish the regime by "making the strongest possible response" then of course anything goes. If there is no call for accuracy or minimal fallout - why not a megaton strike on the seat of government or the power base of the ruler?

But simply to say this is to show why such a concept lacks all contact with reality. Frank von Hippel has pointed out that US presidents have in the past threatened or been pressured to use nuclear weapons in situations which did not threaten the existence of the nation: Truman to force an armistice in Korea; Eisenhower to stop Chinese bombardment of islands in the Taiwan strait; Nixon to obtain a face-saving exit from the war in Vietnam. In the end they all realised that the political costs of breaking the nuclear taboo "vastly outweighed the military benefits from nuclear weapon use".46

Today these political costs would be certain to include converting much of the world into violent revulsion against the US and contributing to recruitment into anti-American terrorist organisations: it could destroy NATO and would discredit the United Nations beyond repair, fatally undermining the nuclear non-proliferation regime as more and more countries came to regard a nuclear insurance policy as indispensable in a world become radically more unpredictable. As many people have pointed out: "Nukes are the only weapon that could pose a threat to US survival. Why would you want to open Pandora's box?"47


The best solution to the problem of TNW would consist of five related actions:

1. NATO would revise its doctrine of flexible response making it plain that nuclear weapons would be used only in conditions of extreme national self-defence.

2. America would withdraw all TNW now on European soil to the Continental USA, and accept a binding obligation not to deploy them in any foreign country.

3. All five recognised nuclear weapon states would stand strictly by their undertaking not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states, unless such a state attacked them in alliance with a nuclear weapon state. Deliberate ambiguity regarding possible use in response to an attack with chemical or biological weapons would be jettisoned.

4. The US, Britain and France should enter into an undertaking not to develop any new design of nuclear weapons. Russia and China would be invited to join them as soon as they are ready to do so.

5. Further reductions in holdings of TNW should be negotiated between Russia and the United States.

Such practical steps are consistent with the commitments agreed by NPT parties at the Review Conference in May 2000. Until such time that the political will is generated to implement them, Russia and the United States should at least reaffirm their 1991 declarations, adopt mutually agreed guidelines on their implementation, agree transparency measures on remaining stocks by type, location, future plans etc. and in due course adopt measures of mutual verification.


1. The subject of TNW has attracted an enormous literature over the past half-century. The following recent studies have proved to be particularly valuable: David S. Yost. The US and Nuclear Deterrence in Europe. Adelphi Paper 326. International Institute for Strategic Studies. London. 1999; Bruno Tertrais. Nuclear Policies in Europe. Adelphi Paper 327. International Institute for Strategic Studies. London. 1999; Otfried Nassauer. NATO's Nuclear Posture Review: Should Europe end nuclear sharing? BITS Policy Note 02.1. Berlin Information Centre for Transnational Security. Berlin. April 2002; Stephen Pullinger. Military Action Against Iraq: The Nuclear Option. ISIS Policy Paper No 83. International Security Information Service. London. April 2002; Mark Bromley, David Grahame and Christine Kucia. Bunker Busters: Washington's Drive for New Nuclear Weapons. Basic Research Report 2002.2. British American Security Information Council, London, July 2002; Tania Susiluoto (Editor) Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Time for Control. UNIDIR/2002/11. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Geneva. 2002; Robert W. Nelson. Nuclear Bunker Busters, Mini-nukes and the US Nuclear Stockpile. Physics Today. Vol. 56, Issue 11, November 2003, p.s2.; See http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-56/iss-11/p32.html.

2. "Address to the Nation on Reducing United States and Soviet Nuclear Weapons". http://www.bushlibrary.tamu.edu/papers/1991/91092704.html

3. Letter dated October 11, 1991 from the Permanent representative of the USSR to the UN, A/46/592, October 23, 1991

4. Taina Susiluoto (Ed.), 'Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Time for Control' UNIDIR, Geneva, 2002, p. 59.

5. Jozef Goldblat, 'Arms Control', Sage Publications, London, Second Edition 2002. p 98.

6. British Army nuclear artillery shells and rocket warheads had always been American. With the US decision to remove these, Britain automatically lost that capability.

7. Sergey Radchenko, Tactical Nuclear Weapons Regime: is it Legally Binding, in Susiluoto, 'Tactical Nuclear Weapons', op. cit. pp. 75-92.

8. James Sterngold, 'Seoul says it now has no nuclear arms', The New York Times, December 19, 1991.

9. President George Bush, 'Statement on the US Nuclear Weapons Initiative', July 2, 1992.

10. US Department of Defense, Press Release and 'Nuclear Posture Review' Briefing, September 22, 1994.

11. Joshua Handler, The September 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives and the Elimination, Storing and Security Aspects of TNWs, in Susiluoto, 'Tactical Nuclear Weapons' op. cit. Tables 5, 7 and 13.

12. Ibid. Table 9 and related footnotes.

13. Ibid. Table 13.

14. Goldblat, 2002, op. cit. p. 99

15. The Military Balance 1998/99, International Institute of Strategic Studies, London, October 1998, p.50.

16. Jozef Goldblat, 'Arms Control' Sage publications, London, First Edition, 1994, p. 74.

17. Goldblat, 2002, op. cit. p. 99.

18. Hugh Beach and Nadine Gurr, 'Flattering the Passions: Or, the Bomb and Britain's Bid for a World Role', I.B.Tauris, London, 1999, p. 78.

19. Fred Mulley, 'The Politics of Western Defence', Thames and Hudson, London, 1962, pp. 45 and 123.

20. See, for example, Stephen Pullinger, 'Preventing the use of chemical and biological weapons', ISIS Briefing Paper No.72, July 1998.

21. Hansard, Column 1133W.

22. In the cases of the British base (Lakenheath), one of the Italian bases (Aviano) and one of the Turkish bases (Incirlik), the aircraft belong to fighter wings of the US Air Force, equipped with F-15E or F-16s. On seven more bases the aircraft are operated by the host nation: Büchel (German Air Force - Tornado); Kleine Brogel (Belgian Air Force - F-16); Volkel (Royal Dutch Air Force - F-16); Ghedi-Torre (Italian Air Force - Tornado); Araxos (Greek Air Force - A7E); Murted Akinci and Balikesir (Turkish Air Force - F-16)). The vaults at the last two airfields are on caretaker status as are those at Nörvenich (German Air Force - Tornado). The base at Ramstein (Germany - US Air Force C-130)) is for storage and transit only.

23. Otfried Nassauer, 'NATO's Nuclear Posture Review: Should Europe End Nuclear Sharing', BITS Policy Note 02.1, April 2002. Berlin Information Centre for Transnational Security. The costs of the weapons, aircraft and bunkers are, of course, 'sunk', unless the plan to refurbish the bunkers goes ahead. Costs of training and custody are recurrent.

24. International Herald Tribune, February 11, 2003.

25. Hansard, Column 602W.

26. A discussion of this whole problem by NATO in June 2002 led to no significant changes. See 'Fall 2002/Prague Summit' BASIC's NATO e-mail Service, http://www.basicint.org/europe/NATO/fall2002tacticalnuke.htm

27. 'Nuclear Posture Review [Excerpts]'. See http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/dod/npr.htm

28. The 'Pit' is the core of fissile material at the heart of a nuclear warhead. It derives from the American use of the word meaning 'pip'.

29. Nuclear Posture Review p.46

30. Bromley, Grahame and Kucia, op. cit. p.43, http://www.basicint.org/pubs/Research/2002BB.pdf

31. Steven Weinberg, 'The Growing Nuclear Danger' The New York Review of Books, July 18, 2002. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15604

32. 'Nuclear Posture Review' p.47 p. 17.

33. Ibid. p.48

34. Bromley, Grahame and Kucia, op. cit. p . 34

35. Charles Ferguson, 'Congressional Debate on Nuclear Weapons Policy: From the Nuclear Brink to the Slippery Slope', Monterey Institute for International Studies, at: http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/031027.htm

36. 'The Republican Victory in the US Congress: What will it mean for Nuclear Weapons and Missile Defence policies?', BASIC Notes. 14 November 2002. http://www.basicint.org/pubs/Notes/2002USelection.htm

37. Goldblat, 2002, op. cit. p. 112.

38. Bromley, Grahame and Kucia, op. cit. p. 37.

39. 'US Nuclear Policy: Negative Security Assurances' Arms Control Association Factsheets March 2002. p.1 http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/negsec.asp?print

40. Ibid.

41. Bromley, Grahame and Kucia, op. cit. p. 37.

42. The Washington Times, January 31, 2003

43. The Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2003

44. The term 'Pre-strategic' was first coined by the French, but has been formally adopted by the British as one of the tasks of the Trident force. 'The credibility of deterrence also depends on retaining an option for a limited strike that would not automatically lead to a full scale nuclear exchange ... Trident must also be capable of performing this "sub-strategic" role'. The Strategic Defence Review, Cm 3999, July 1998, para 63 (p. 18).

45. Beach and Gurr, op. cit. Chapter 2, passim.

46. Frank N. von Hippel, 'Does the US need new Nuclear Weapons' Physics and Society, Vol.31. No.3, July 2002, p.4.

47. Nicholas D. Kristof, 'Flirting with Disaster: Nuclear talk harms the US', International Herald Tribune, February 15-16, 2003.

General Sir Hugh Beach is a former Master General of the Ordnance for the British Army. He now writes and lectures on arms control and ethical issues concerned with peace and war. This article was previously was published as a joint ISIS/Saferworld/ISIS Europe Briefing Paper in April 2004

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