This article first appeared on the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) website on 12 February 2015.
- US legislators call for nukes to new NATO countries.
- NATO parliamentarians oppose.
- Joint letter from NATO parliamentarians to President Obama.
In response to the conflict between Russia and the West there have been influential voices pushing for a stronger role for nuclear weapons, including proposals to deploy additional nuclear weapons in NATO countries.
Two US Representatives in the US House Armed Services Committee (Mike Rogers and Mike Turner) recently wrote
to US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel calling for the US to update its nuclear policy to respond to Russian threats, and in particular to consider deploying tactical US nuclear weapons in new NATO countries, and to deploy US Strategic bombers in Europe on a rotational basis.
Rogers and Turner argue that US adherence to arms control and security treaties with Russia such as the Intermediate range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the NATO-Russia Founding Act, ‘were naïve at inception and are simply dangerous at present’. They have therefore requested information from the US Secretaries of State and Defence on requirements, capabilities and costs to deploy US Strategic bombers in Europe and US sub-strategic weapons in new NATO countries.
Parliamentarians in NATO countries are challenging these proposals, arguing that they would escalate tensions further and increase the risk of nuclear war. Indeed, such steps could jeopardise the ceasefire agreement
reached in Minsk on 12 February 2015.
On Feb 5, 2015, Joël Voordewind (CU) and PNND Member Harry van Bommel (SP) submitted parliamentary questions to the Dutch government on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in new NATO states. Voordewind expressed his concerns for this possible escalation, and the danger of a new arms race. Van Bommel asked if the Dutch government had plans to revise the 1996 NATO agreement not to deploy nuclear weapons in new member states. Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders responded by emphasizing the Netherlands’ policy of opposing such deployments. Foreign Minister Koenders says no nuclear weapons deployment to new NATO Countries
Koenders, who was one of the founding members of PNND when he was in the Dutch House of Representatives, has also called on NATO parliamentarians to continue to work on transparency and confidence-building measures and on nuclear disarmament. He notes that this is vital ‘despite the adverse political climate, or rather because of it… We have to prevent a new arms race or a restoration of Cold War politics with an increased role for nuclear deterrence.’ (See Foreign Minister Koenders speaks to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Washington-based arms control organisation, aims to alert the US Administration and Congress to influential voices from NATO countries opposing any proposal to expand US nuclear weapons in Europe.