Experts worry nuclear arms race as US reportedly to station weapons in UK
Published: Jan 28, 2024 09:54 PM

Pentagon File photo:VCG

Pentagon File photo:VCG


After UK media reported over the weekend that the US plans to station nuclear weapons for the first time in 15 years in the UK amid the "increasing threat" from Russia, experts said the move will only trigger more turbulence in Europe and a potential nuclear arms race. 

The US plans to place the B61-12 gravity bomb, three times as strong as the Hiroshima device, at RAF Lakenheath air base in Suffolk in case of a potential war between NATO and Russia, The Telegraph reported by quoting the Pentagon documents it saw. 

A UK ministry of defense spokesperson said that it remains a longstanding UK and NATO policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location when responding to the disclosure.

The disclosure comes as several senior officials from the US and UK called on the UK to be prepared for the possibility of a war between NATO and Russia.

Earlier this week, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing head of the British army, said its 74,000-strong ranks need to be bolstered by at least 45,000 reservists and citizens in order to be better readied for possible conflict, according to the Guardian. US navy secretary Carlos Del Toro also urged the UK to "reassess" the size of its armed forces given "the threats that exist today," said the report.

In September 2023, the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow will view any move to return US nuclear weapons to the UK as an escalation and will respond with "countermeasures" for its own security when responding to an item in the 2024 US air force budget for building a dormitory at RAF Lakenheath for personnel on a "potential surety mission" - military jargon for nuclear safety and security.

The US' reinforcement of tactical nuclear weapons deployment in Europe is an established strategy, and the re-deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the UK is highly likely to happen as it suits the practical needs for both the US and the UK to target Russia, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The US is pushing for more military competition between NATO and Russia, even at the level of nuclear weapons. The series of actions by the US is making the security environment in Europe more challenging, creating a favorable strategic environment for itself, said Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert.

In 2008, the US removed nuclear missiles from the UK after judging that the Cold War threat from Moscow had diminished. The US currently has deployed nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.