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NATO Mulling Increasing Nuclear Deployments

by | Jun 18, 2024

NATO Mulling Increasing Nuclear Deployments

by | Jun 18, 2024

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A B-61-11 nuclear bomb under an F-15E aircraft

The alliance’s top official voiced concerns about alleged threats from Russia and China.

NATO is considering whether to move nuclear weapons out of storage and place them on standby. The civilian head of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, also called on member states to increase spending on weapons.

In an interview with the Telegraph published on Sunday, Secretary General Stoltenberg said the bloc could soon bring more of its nuclear weapons online. “I won’t go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored, but we need to consult on these issues. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he told the outlet.

While the official noted that “transparency” is an important part of a nuclear doctrine, he did not indicate how NATO’s nuclear policy might change other than by expanding the number of operations for nuclear weapons. NATO’s largest nuclear power, the US, has about 1,700 deployed nuclear weapons. Additionally, France and the UK have smaller nuclear stockpiles.

Stoltenberg explained that part of NATO’s rationale for expanding its nuclear capabilities was to counter China’s expanding arsenal. Beijing’s growing military capabilities have come in response to Washington’s growing role in the region. An international arms watchdog released a report on Sunday saying China’s nuclear arsenal increased from 410 to 500 warheads last year.

President Barack Obama kicked off the world’s largest military buildup since World War II in the countries and islands surrounding China. Washington signed the AUKUS pact with Australia and the UK that will see more nuclear submarines operating in the region. Additionally, the White House has engaged in talks to bring Taiwan under Washington’s nuclear umbrella. Beijing has characterized all these actions as highly provocative.

Stoltenberg also used the interview to call on members of the alliance to spend more on weapons, even if that means difficult cuts to domestic programs. “The reality is that we all reduced defense spending when tensions went down after the end of the Cold War. And now we need to increase defense when tensions are going up again.” He added, “I have been prime minister for 10 years, I know that it’s hard to find money for defense because most politicians always prefer to spend money on health, on education, infrastructure and other important tasks.”

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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