Move puts UK on front line in a NATO/Russia war
By Kate Hudson
News that US nuclear weapons may already be back in Britain, at RAF/USAF Lakenheath in East Anglia, makes Britain once again a forward nuclear base for the US in Europe.
110 US/NATO free-fall B61 nuclear bombs were removed from Lakenheath in 2008, following sustained protest at the base by CND and the Lakenheath Action Group. US nuclear bombs had been located there since 1954.
Their return – assigned to NATO – will increase global tensions and put Britain on the front line in a NATO/Russia war. B61s have continued to be sited in five other countries across Europe – Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey – in spite of strong opposition within some of the ‘host’ countries.
Now the UK has been added to the US’s list of European sites in line for infrastructure investment for storing ‘special weapons within secure sites and facilities’. Special weapons mean nuclear weapons and this is happening in the context of increasing tension with Russia and the current escalating war.
Since the weapons were removed in 2008, the empty storage vaults for the weapons have been on ‘caretaker’ status, but reports of nuclear exercises at Lakenheath increase the likelihood that nuclear weapons are back, or on their way; the base currently hosts F-15E fighter-bombers with nuclear capability but these are being replaced by the new nuclear- capable F-35A Lightning. The first of these new fighter- bombers arrived in December 2021.
Within the next year US/NATO nuclear bases in Europe will also receive the new B61-12 guided nuclear bomb which is entering full-scale production in the US.
The return of US nuclear weapons to Britain and the upgrading of its nuclear weapons across Europe constitutes a further undermining of prospects for peace in Europe and beyond.
The US is the only country to locate its nuclear weapons outside its own borders and this major increase in NATO’s capacity to wage nuclear war in Europe is dangerously destabilising.
Whether they have already been returned to Britain, or their delivery is still in preparation, this is a huge challenge for the peace movement and we will do everything we can to prevent these weapons being sited here.