• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Undeterred: Amid Terror Attacks in Europe, US H-bombs Still Deployed There

shutterstock_107255984

“A little more than 60 miles from Brussels airport,” Kleine Brogel Air Base is one of six European sites where the United States still stores active nuclear weapons, William Arkin wrote last month. The national security consultant for NBC News Investigates, Arkin warned that these bombs “evade public attention to the extent that a post-terror attack nuclear scare in Belgium can occur without the bombs even being mentioned.”

At the Kleine Brogel base, there are an estimated 20 US B61 nuclear bombs to be carried and delivered by the Belgian Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets. Yet these weapons “did not come up in news coverage following the [March 22] Islamic State bombings in Brussels,” Arkin wrote for NewsVice. The B61s weren’t mentioned in reports of the shooting death of a Belgian nuclear reactor guard, Arkin said, or in stories about lax security at Belgium’s power reactors.

Today, only 180 — out of more than 7000 US nukes once deployed in Europe — are still kept at the ready: in Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Turkey. “And,” Arkin notes, “Soviet nuclear weapons have even been removed from Eastern Europe.” If “nuclear weapons could be removed from the Korean Peninsula, certainly they don’t need to be physically present in Europe,” he said. “Other NATO nuclear partners have denuclearized. In 2001, the last nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Greece. US nuclear weapons were even withdrawn from Britain in 2008.”

Other experts have also spotlighted what the commercial press treats as taboo terror scenarios. Hans M. Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists, warned last month that, “Suspected terrorists have had their eye on one of the Italian bases [two of which house US B61 bombs], and the largest nuclear stockpile in Europe [the 90 US B61s at Incirlik] is in the middle of an armed civil uprising in Turkey less than 70 miles from war-torn Syria. Is this really a safe place to store nuclear weapons?” The answer is No, especially considering that since 9/11 terrorists have hit Belgium three times, Germany and Italy once each, and Turkey at least 20 times — and all four NATO partners are current B61 outposts.

Big business behind new H-bombs

Large majorities of Europeans, prominent NATO ministers and generals, and Belgian and German parliamentary resolutions have all demanded permanent removal of the B61s. The holdup is not public opinion, security needs or deterrence theory, but big business.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico reports that the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) receives around $7 billion a year for maintaining and “enhancing” nuclear weapons. The Air Force wants 400-500 new B61-12s to be built, 180 of which are scheduled to replace existing versions known as the B61-3, -4, -7, -10, and -11 currently in Europe. In 2015, NNSA estimated the cost of replacing the B61s at $8.1 billion over 12 years. Budget increases are sought every year.

Our nuclear weapons laboratories promote and feed from this gravy train, as Nuclear Watch NM notes, specifically the Sandia National Lab (a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp.) and Los Alamos National Lab, both in New Mexico, which oversee the design, manufacture and testing of the B61-12.

William Hartung, a Fellow at the Center for International Policy, reports that major weapons contractors like Bechtel and Boeing reap huge profits from weapons upgrades. Lockheed Martin “gets two bites at the apple,” Hartung says, because it also designs and builds the F-35A fighter bomber, “which will be fitted to carry the B61-12, as will the F-15E (McDonnell Douglas), F-16 (General Dynamics), B-2A (Northrop Grumman), B-52H (Boeing), Tornado (Panavia Aircraft) and future long-range striker bombers.”

Although the United States has promised not to build new nuclear weapons, Kristensen, and Matthew McKinzie, the Nuclear Program Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, report that, “The capability of the new B61-12 … seems to continue to expand, from a simple life-extension of an existing bomb, to the first US guided nuclear gravity bomb, to a nuclear earth-penetrator with increased accuracy.” These complex nuclear weapons changes cost enormous amounts of tax money. And the money keeps coming because it fuels and rewards the perceived power and prestige that nuclear weapons workers carry up to corporate, academic, military and political elites.

Summer-long protests underway at Büchel Air Base, home to 20 US H-bombs

The German group Nuclear-Free Büchel has launched its 19th annual series of actions against the 20 B61 bombs deployed at Büchel Air Force Base in West-central Germany. This year’s rallying cry for the 20-week-long event: “Büchel is Everywhere.” The occupation began March 26 — the anniversary of the German Bundestag’s 2010 resolution calling for withdrawal of the B61s — and continues through Aug. 9, Nagasaki Day. Just outside the main gate, over-sized banners, placards and artwork recall a successful effort 30 years ago that ousted 96 US nuclear-armed Cruise missiles from Hunsrück, Germany: On Oct. 11, 1986, more than 200,000 people marched there against NATO plans to use nuclear detonations inside Germany against a Warsaw Pact invasion, i.e. the military genius of destroying Germany to save it. It seems the more things change…

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail