On the 16 September 2014, eight US arms control groups issued an open letter calling for a new transatlantic advocacy campaign to remove US 'free-fall' B61 nuclear weapons from Europe.
European countries, whose pilots are trained to deliver B-61s to their targets, are facing expensive decisions to replace their existing aircraft with the US F35 Joint Strike Fighter. And the projected cost of turning the B-61s into precision-guided nuclear bombs is likely to exceed $10 billion.
Although NATO is undertaking an expensive nuclear escalation by default, it was an issue that received little or no attention at the recent NATO Summit in Wales. The Summit Declaration did acknowledge the significance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty but failed to recognise the contradictions between the non-proliferation commitments to the UN treaty and the acts of proliferation by NATO member states.
The 'Call to Action' is reproduced in full below
Dear Colleagues in Europe and Canada,
The future of NATO’s nuclear-sharing plan will be determined in the next five to six years. We must combine our efforts in the United States with those of European and Canadian peace organisations in order to remove US B61 nuclear bombs from Europe.
Over the last 10 months, the bombs stationed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey have been debated in the US Congress. Some of the debate has revolved around NATO perspectives and whether or not Europeans want to keep the B61 in Europe. Together we can convince Congress that that the bombs are unwelcome and influence the removal of the bombs from Europe.
North American and European arms control groups should coordinate our advocacy for removing the B61 from Europe. Otherwise these Cold War relics could remain in Europe for another 30 years.
Over the last year, US and European arms control groups have worked together to encourage European parliamentarians to oppose the B61. In May, a “Dear Colleague” letter from over 130 parliamentarians was delivered to the Appropriations and Armed Services committees of Congress. That letter has opened the door for parliamentarians to express their position on the B61.
While our opponents have used the situation in Ukraine and current tension with Russia as a justification for keeping the B61 in Europe, and perhaps moving them further East, we must stand up to counter their arguments. US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe are an outdated means of reassuring the alliance’s security. NATO members should increase conventional military cooperation and stop relying on nuclear weapons. We must encourage more parliamentarians to oppose these weapons being stationed in Europe.
Some actions that we could pursue in NATO member nations:
1. Encourage parliamentarians to write letters opposing the B61 and supporting conventional military cooperation instead, to the US Congress. We can advise you on where the letters should be sent.
2. Encourage parliamentarians to make statements during parliamentary sessions and get their opposition to the B61 on the record.
3. Ask your activists to write letters to the editor of your major newspapers. Also encourage parliamentarians to write opinion articles or co-author the articles with you, opposing the B61.
Thank you for all of your help in our efforts over the last year. Keep us informed of your progress, and we will do the same. The better communication and collaboration we have, the more likely we are to succeed. We look forward to working with you more in the future as we coordinate our efforts across parliaments.
If you have any questions, contact David Culp at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) by email at David@fcnl.org.
David Culp, Legislative Representative, Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
Hans Kristensen, Director, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists
Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Stephen Young, Senior Analyst, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
Paul Kawika Martin, Political & Communications Director, Peace Action
Erica Fein, Nuclear Weapons Policy Director, Women’s Action for New Directions
John Isaacs, Senior Fellow, Council for a Livable World & Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation