Analyst: NATO Poised to Ramp Up Nuclear-Arms Security Spending

A U.S. F-16 fighter jet stationed in 2011 at Belgium's Kleine Brogel air base, one of several European military air installations believed to host U.S. nuclear weapons.
National Journal
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Diane Barnes
March 12, 2014, 9:32 a.m.

An is­sue ex­pert says NATO is pre­par­ing a ma­jor in­crease in spend­ing to pro­tect U.S. nuc­le­ar arms fielded in al­lied European states.

The U.S. De­fense De­part­ment’s fisc­al 2015 budget pro­pos­al calls for $154 mil­lion to bol­ster de­fenses at mil­it­ary in­stall­a­tions spread across Bel­gi­um, Ger­many, Italy, Tur­key and the Neth­er­lands. That amount would come in ad­di­tion to $80 mil­lion the al­li­ance has spent in the last 14 years to pro­tect nuc­le­ar arms in the six European na­tions, says a Tues­day re­port by Hans Kristensen, who heads the Nuc­le­ar In­form­a­tion Pro­ject at the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ic­an Sci­ent­ists.

Kristensen said more than three-fourths of the se­cur­ity spend­ing to date took place in 2011 and 2012, after an Air Force pan­el de­term­ined that de­fenses at most U.S. nuc­le­ar-arms fa­cil­it­ies in Europe did not meet Pentagon stand­ards.

Ex­pendit­ures in those two years ap­pears to have been partly in re­sponse to find­ings by the Air Force Blue Rib­bon Re­view, Kristensen said.

“The ad­di­tion­al $154 mil­lion sug­gests that the up­grades in 2011-2012 did not fix all the se­cur­ity is­sues at the European nuc­le­ar bases,” he wrote in his as­sess­ment, pub­lished on the FAS Stra­tegic Se­cur­ity blog.

The United States de­ploys 184 B-61 nuc­le­ar grav­ity bombs in Europe at an an­nu­al cost of roughly $100 mil­lion, Kristensen wrote. He said the coun­try is ex­pec­ted to spend $10 bil­lion more in com­ing years to re­fur­bish the weapons, as well as “hun­dreds of mil­lions” of dol­lars on re­lated F-35 air­craft up­dates.

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