Des Browne, former United Kingdom Defense Secretary, in a speech on “A Mistrustful NATO-Russian Relationship” at the Russian Council on International Affairs in Moscow on March 23, 2012, made the following points about non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe.
In my view, the current U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons stationed in Europe are militarily useless and should be reduced in number, consolidated to fewer bases, and eventually removed altogether. Not everyone in NATO agrees with me and it is not clear what the future of these weapons will be.
I know the Russian position up to now has been that these weapons must be removed to national territory before any discussion of Russian weapons in this category can begin. I say to this audience in all honesty that Russia is strong in this category of weapons systems and is known to station some of them very close to NATO territory, especially in the Baltic region. The nearest NATO non-strategic nuclear weapons to Russian territory are, on the other hand, at In cirlik airbase in Turkey, some 800 km away.
Now, I know that for Russia there is nothing non-strategic about these NATO weapons. I also believe, in its own security interests, Russia should be willing to negotiate their removal from Europe in return for a small reduction in its own stockpile, increased transparency on total numbers and locations of weapons held in this category, and some removal of Russian systems to points further away from NATO borders.
There will be no hope of progress without reciprocity.
Non-strategic nuclear weapons are in my view a dangerous terrorism risk and should be eliminated altogether but even if people believe they provide a valuable source of security I think there is a worthwhile deal to be done here. Russia, in my view, would also be well within its rights to trade increased transparency on NSNW for greater transparency and increased warning time in relation to NATO conventional forces.
Read more of his address.
Filed under: NATO, Nuclear Weapons, Tactical nuclear weapons, West European | Tagged: Europe, Russia | Leave a comment »