Sunday

5th Jul 2020

Four European states host US nuclear bombs, WikiLeaks reveals

  • Soviet nuclear warheads under inspection. The US bombs in Europe are thought to date back to Cold War times (Photo: jenspie3)

The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Turkey have US nuclear weapons situated on their soil, the WikiLeaks whistleblower files have revealed.

The four countries, along with Italy, had long been suspected of being home to a collection of American nuclear armaments, but neither the states nor Nato had ever officially confirmed or denied their presence.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

For the first time, the confidential files released on Sunday evening (28 November) have acknowledged what was until now only conjecture, upending decades of careful diplomatic ambiguity.

In a confidential memo from US ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy, he casually mentions the possible withdrawal of the weapons from Germany and perhaps from the Netherlands and Belgium as well.

The memo also confirms the presence of US nuclear weapons in Turkey.

Italy is also believed to be a silent custodian of American weapons of mass destruction.

Asked by EUobserver whether the country will now reassess its ambivalent public position on the matter in the wake of the leaks, the Dutch foreign ministry continued to stick by its long-standing stance, saying that there would likely be no comment forthcoming on the issue of US nuclear weapons.

According to estimates found in a 2007 report using a variety of different sources to catalogue deployment of US nuclear weapons in Europe from the Natural Resources Defence Council, an American environmental protection NGO, the continent is home to 480 such weapons.

The report estimated that the Kleine Brogel weapons base in northeastern Belgium near the city of Meeuwen housed 20 nuclear weapons.

The same document reckoned that another 20 are housed at Volkel Air Base near the town of Uden in southeast of the Netherlands. Nuclear weapons are thought to have been stored there since the 1960s and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Some 20 nuclear weapons are believed to be stored in an underground vault at the German Luftwaffe's Buchel Air Base near the Luxembourg border. Last October, the country's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, came close to admitting their existence when he called "for a country free of nuclear weapons."

However, he would not say where the weapons were located, or if they did indeed exist.

Italy is also thought to host a total of 90 such arms, with 50 at Aviane Air Base near Udine in the north of the country, and 40 at Ghedi Torre Air Base near Brescia on the Adriatic coast

Incirlik Air Base, east of Adana in Turkey on the northern Mediterranean coast, is believed to store 90 such weapons.

Beyond the undeclared European nuclear states, the UK, an admitted member of the nuclear club, is home to 110 US nuclear weapons, at RAF Lakenheath, about 30 kilometres northeast of the university town of Cambridge.

Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal described the leaks in general as "not conducive to communication," but also warned: "We mustn't get spastic over them."

Facial-recognition moratorium back on EU agenda

Members of the committee on civil liberties widely supported a moratorium on facial recognition for law enforcement purposes, just after the EU data watchdog backed earlier this week the ban on this technology in public spaces.

EU parliament chairs explain missing lobbyist meetings

MEPs in January 2019 agreed to a rule change in a bid for greater transparency. The rules included requiring committee chairs to publish their meetings with registered lobbyists. EUobserver spoke to six chairs, who haven't done so yet.

Opinion

Why so few women in EU missions?

Angela Merkel is only the seventh woman to chair the Council of the European Union's meetings. And in 2020 there is no woman leading any of the current 11 European civilian missions (let alone the six military operations).

Eminent women appeal for EU help on Palestine

West Bank annexation "was conceived almost entirely by men" and will crush the "dignity and rights" of Palestinian women still further, a group of 40 women leaders have said.

Coronavirus

EU silent on US buying up world's remdesivir supplies

The European Commission says it is in talks with the US biopharmaceutical company Gilead to secure supplies of remdesivir but won't provide any details. The comments follow the purchase of the world's supply by the United States.

News in Brief

  1. EU grants Remdesivir conditional authorisation
  2. French prime minister and government resign
  3. France lied on Nato naval clash, Turkey claims
  4. EU highlights abuses in recent Russia vote
  5. Belgium bids to host EU mask stockpile
  6. France shamed on refugees by European court
  7. French and Dutch police take down criminal phone network
  8. EU launches infringement case on Covid-19 cancelled trips

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Feature

The 150 random French citizens advising Macron

Some 150 randomly-picked men and women make up Emmanuel Macron's Citizens' Climate Convention. This week Macron invited them to the Élysée Palace and promised - nearly - all of their wishes would come true .

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us