The United States is reportedly planning on stationing nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom for the first time in over 15 years amid escalating tensions with Russia.
In the midst of increasing warnings about the potential of a hot war between NATO and Russia, plans are reportedly being made to upgrade the Lakenheath Royal Air Force base in Suffolk to store American nuclear weapons.
U.S. Department of Defense documents seen by the Daily Telegraph broadsheet in Britain reportedly laid out plans for a “nuclear mission” to proceed “imminently” at the base where American nuclear warheads were previously held during the Cold War but removed in 2008 as the Russian threat diminished.
The procurement documents are said by the newspaper to show that the Pentagon has ordered new equipment for the British base, including ballistic shields to protect “high-value assets”. They also reportedly showed that the Defense Department is planning to begin constructing a facility in June to house American military personal who will work on the base.
According to the report, RAF Lakenheath is set to house American B61-12 gravity bombs, which have a blast yield of 50 kilotons or over three times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the Second World War.
The reported decision to deploy nuclear weapons to Europe comes amid increasing tensions between the West and Russia. This week, Britain’s top military commander Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders said that the UK needs to make “preparatory steps to enable placing our societies on a war footing” and that given the UK’s diminished military capabilities, it may be necessary to field a “citizen army” to wage war with Russia.
The top general went on to say that the time has come to “think the unthinkable” and “look carefully at conscription”. Downing Street rejected the notion, saying that the British Army would remain a voluntary service.
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Earlier this month, Estonia — which shares a land border with Russia — warned that NATO only has “three to five years” to prepare for a Russian attack. Sweden, which is likely to join the NATO alliance this year, has also warned its population to ready itself for war.
Following the release of the report of plans to house nuclear weapons in Britain, the Pentagon attempted to downplay the story, saying that the “United States routinely upgrades its military facilities in allied nations.”
“Unclassified administrative budget documents often accompany such activities. These documents are not predictive of, nor are they intended to disclose any specific posture or basing details. It is US policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location,” a Defense Department spokesman said per The Times of London.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the UK’s Ministry of Defence said: “It remains a longstanding UK and Nato policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location.”
Nevertheless, the report has ruffled feathers in Russia, with a Kremlin spokesman warning that Moscow would enact “countermeasures” should the United States house nuclear weapons in Britain.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 22, 2023