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FAS side events at the RevCon

by Alicia Godsberg

Yesterday FAS premiered our documentary Paths To Zero at the NPT RevCon.  The screening was a great success and there was a very engaging conversation afterward between the audience and Ivan Oelrich, who was there to promote the film.  As a result of some suggestions, we are hoping to translate the narration to different languages so the film can be used as an educational tool around the world.  You can see Paths To Zero by following this link – we will also be putting up the individual chapters soon.

This morning I spoke at a side event at the NPT RevCon entitled “Law Versus Doctrine: Assessing US and Russian Nuclear Postures.”  I was asked to give FAS’s perspective on the New START, NPR, and new Russian military doctrine.  Several people asked me for my remarks, so I’m posting them below the jump.   Continue Reading →

Speaking at the NPT-Review Conference

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is Underway in New York

By Hans M. Kristensen

I gave two talks at the review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both on non-strategic nuclear weapons.

The first was an FAS/BASIC panel on May 10 on Prospects for a shift in NATO’s nuclear posture.

The second was a panel organized by Pax Christi on May 12 on NATO’s nuclear policy.

My prepared remarks follow below:

Continue Reading →

“A Nuclear Weapons Free NATO”

Imagine that: a nuclear weapons free NATO working for nuclear disarmament?

By Hans M. Kristensen

While NATO struggles with whether and how it can discuss the future of nuclear weapons in the alliance, the Obama administration timidly avoids addressing the issue head on, and NGOs try to play government by proposing sensible steps such as consolidation and gradual reductions, three U.S. active duty military officers have taken the leap and written a thought-provoking and visionary article in American Diplomacy in which they argue that the United States should withdraw its nuclear weapons from Europe and NATO adopt a nuclear weapons-free policy.

The core of their proposal is for NATO to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” by ending the Cold War nuclear structure of direct allied involvement in nuclear planning and leave potential nuclear missions in support of Article V to US, British, and French national nuclear capabilities outside of the NATO Command and Control architecture. NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group and SHAPE’s Nuclear Operations Branch would be disestablished and a Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Group established in Brussels to lead the international effort of reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

Now that’s what I call a vision!

Additional information: Kleine Brogel Nukes

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

The Nuclear Posture Review

The Nuclear Posture Review enshrines nuclear disarmament as a real goal for U.S. nuclear weapons policy for the first time.

By Hans M. Kristensen

It’s finally here! Hot off the press after a three months delay. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the United States has published a Nuclear Posture Review report.

Granted, it’s a sanitized version, but the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) contains strong language that commits the United States to work for nonproliferation. And for the first time, the goal of elimination of nuclear weapons is enshrined into the NPR.

By incorporating a broader range of policy issues in setting the nuclear posture, the review represents a break with the Bush administration’s NPR, which was more focused on military capabilities. As such, the new NPR is more a nuclear policy review than a nuclear posture review.

At the same time, the new NPR comes across as a surprisingly cautious document that recommends curtailing the U.S. nuclear posture further in the future but for now preserves many of the key nuclear weapons force structure and policy elements of the previous administration. Continue Reading →

Nuclear Posture Review to Reduce Regional Role of Nuclear Weapons

The Quadrennial Deference Review forecasts reduction in regional role of nuclear weapons.

By Hans M. Kristensen

A little-noticed section of the Quadrennial Defense Review recently published by the Pentagon suggests that that the Obama administration’s forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in regional scenarios.

The apparent reduction coincides with a proposal by five NATO allies to withdraw the remaining U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.

Another casualty appears to be a decision to retire the nuclear-armed Tomahawk sea-launched land-attack cruise missile, despite the efforts of the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission.

Continue Reading →

Kleine Brogel Nukes: Not There, Over Here!



The U.S. Air Force’s 701 Munitions Support Squadron at Kleine Brogel Air Base must protect and handle the nuclear weapons at the base.

By Hans M. Kristensen

An astounding statement by a Belgian defense official has pointed an unexpected light on the apparent location of nuclear weapons at the Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium.

After a group of peace activists climbed the base fence and made their way deep into an area assumed to store nuclear weapons, Ingrid Baeck, a chief spokesperson for the Belgian Ministry of Defense, bluntly told Stars and Stripes: “I can assure you these people never, ever got anywhere near a sensitive area. They are talking nonsense….It was an empty bunker, a shelter,” she said and added: “When you get close to sensitive areas, then it’s another cup of tea.” Continue Reading →

US Nuclear Weapons Site in Europe Breached

Peace activists walked one kilometer onto a US nuclear weapons storage site in Belgium for more than one hour before security personnel reacted. Click image for larger version.
(For an update to this map, go here)

By Hans M. Kristensen

A group of people last week managed to penetrate deep onto Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium where the U.S. Air Force currently deploys 10-20 nuclear bombs. (For an update to this blog, go here)

Fortunately, the people were not terrorists but peace activists from a group known as Vredesactie, who managed to climb the outer base fence, walk cross the runway, breach a double-fenced security perimeter, and walk into the very center of the air base alongside the aircraft shelters where the nuclear bombs are thought to be stored in underground vaults. Continue Reading →

Estimated Nuclear Weapons Locations 2009

Some 23,300 nuclear weapons are stored at 111 locations around the world (click for map)

By Hans M. Kristensen

The world’s approximately 23,300 nuclear weapons are stored at an estimated 111 locations in 14 countries, according to an overview produced by FAS and NRDC.

Nearly half of the weapons are operationally deployed with delivery systems capable of launching on short notice.

The overview is published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and includes the July 2009 START memorandum of understanding data. A previous version was included in the annual report from the International Panel of Fissile Materials published last month. Continue Reading →

Germany and NATO’s Nuclear Dilemma

Security personnel monitor nuclear weapons transport at German air base. Image: USAF

By Hans M. Kristensen

The new German government has announced that it wants to enter talks with its NATO allies about the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany.

The announcement coincides with the Obama administration’s ongoing Nuclear Posture Review, which is spending an unprecedented amount of time pondering the “international aspects” of to what extent nuclear weapons help assure allies of their security.

Germany and many other NATO countries apparently don’t want to be protected by U.S. forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons, which they see as a relic of the Cold War that locks NATO in the past and prevents it’s transition to the future. Continue Reading →

Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons

New low-yield nuclear warheads for cruise missiles on Russia’s submarines?.

By Hans M. Kristensen

Two recent news reports have drawn the attention to Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons. Earlier this week, RIA Novosti quoted Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, deputy head of the Russian Navy General Staff, saying that the role of tactical nuclear weapons on submarines “will play a key role in the future,” that their range and precision are gradually increasing, and that Russia “can install low-yield warheads on existing cruise missiles” with high-yield warheads.

This morning an editorial in the New York Times advocated withdrawing the “200 to 300” U.S. tactical nuclear bombs deployed in Europe “to make it much easier to challenge Russia to reduce its stockpile of at least 3,000 short-range weapons.”

Both reports compel – each in their own way – the Obama administration to address the issue of tactical nuclear weapons. Continue Reading →