US and European legislators – should nuclear weapons deployment be expanded in Europe?

B-52 Strategic Bomber conducts simulated nuclear bombing raid

US legislators call for nukes to new NATO countries. NATO parliamentarians oppose. Joint letter from NATO parliamentarians to President Obama.

In response to the conflict between Russia and the West there have been influential voices pushing for a stronger role for nuclear weapons, including proposals to deploy additional nuclear weapons in NATO countries.

Mike Rogers, Chair of the US House of Reps Sub-committee on Strategic Nuclear Forces
Mike Rogers, Chair of the US House of Representatives Committee on Strategic Nuclear Forces

Two US Representatives in the US House Armed Services Committee (Mike Rogers and Mike Turner) recently wrote to US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel calling for the US to update its nuclear policy to respond to Russian threats, and in particular to consider deploying tactical U.S. nuclear weapons in new NATO countries, and to deploy US Strategic bombers in Europe on a rotational basis.

Rogers and Turner argue that US adherence to arms control and security treaties with Russia such as the Intermediate range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the NATO-Russia Founding Act, ‘were naïve at inception and are simply dangerous at present.’ They have therefore requested information from the US Secretaries of State and Defence on requirements, capabilities and costs to deploy US Strategic bombers in Europe and U.S. sub-strategic weapons in new NATO countries

Parliamentarians in NATO countries are challenging these proposals, arguing that they would escalate tensions further and increase the risk of nuclear war. Indeed, such steps could jeopardise the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk on February 12, 2015.  

Bert Koenders
Bert Koenders, Foriegn Minister of the Netherlands

On Feb 5, 2015, Joël Voordewind (CU) and PNND Member Harry van Bommel (SP) submitted parliamentary questions to the Dutch government on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in new NATO states. Voordewind expressed his concerns for this possible escalation, and the danger of a new arms race. Van Bommel asked if the Dutch government had plans to revise the 1996 NATO agreement not to deploy nuclear weapons in new member states. Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders responded by emphasizing the Netherlands’ policy of opposing such deployments. Foreign Minister Koenders says no nuclear weapons deployment to new NATO Countries).

Koenders, who was one of the founding members of PNND when he was in the Dutch House of Representatives, has also called on NATO parliamentarians to continue to work on transparency and confidence-building measures and on nuclear disarmament. He notes that this is vital ‘despite the adverse political climate, or rather because of it… We have to prevent a new arms race or a restoration of Cold War politics with an increased role for nuclear deterrence.’ (See Foreign Minister Koenders speaks to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly).

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Washington-based arms control organisation, aims to alert the US Administration and Congress to influential voices from NATO countries opposing any proposal to expand US nuclear weapons in Europe.

FCNL invites parliamentarians from NATO countries to endorse a parliamentary letter to President Obama to counter these proposals. Endorsements should be sent to Bradley Harris at (copy to  The deadline for signatures is March 16.

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