The United States positioned B61 gravity bombs in Turkey, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany during the Cold War years to serve as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. There are a total of 200 B61 bombs deployed in the five countries, The Times said. Turkey is believed to be hosting 90 bombs at İncirlik Air Base in southern Anatolia.
According to the report, the Obama administration is preparing to revise US policy on nuclear weapons -- heralding further reductions in the US stockpile and a pledge not to develop new systems. But a possible decision to withdraw the B61 gravity bombs is not expected to be included in the revised nuclear policy, as it is a matter for discussion within NATO.
The strategic importance of the bombs faded following the collapse of the Soviet Union, paving the way for calls for withdrawal of the weapons because there is no longer any justification for keeping them in Europe.
“It’s not like the Red Army is going to be coming across Poland and Germany. Conflict between Russia and the US is unfathomable, but the nuclear weapons in Europe give the Russians the cynical excuse not to talk about their own strategy on tactical weapons,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, told The Times.
According to the daily, the US has been carrying out a review of its nuclear posture since last year, and the conclusions are due to be published in a declassified version early next week, before US president Barack Obama flies back to Prague to sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8.
Under the revised policy, the US is expected to reject the doctrine on nuclear weapons -- the “nuclear posture” -- adopted by George W. Bush, which included the possibility of the United States launching an attack on a non-nuclear state. The revised doctrine is also expected to rule out the development of new weapons systems despite reservations from the military, which is concerned about the modernization and expansion of the nuclear arsenal of Russia and China. The US will also drop the Bush-era notion that nuclear warheads can be deployed in certain circumstances -- for example, if another country resorts to attacking US forces with chemical or biological weapons.