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US plan to upgrade its nuclear weapons facilities in the UK 'quietly' slipped into DoD military documents

Business Insider US
A leftover fallout shelter sign, one of hundreds in New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A leftover fallout shelter sign, one of hundreds in New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  • Military bunkers in the UK could store US nuclear weapons, according to Department of Defense documents. 
  • The UK is receiving new funds to upgrade storage for "special weapons."
  • An expert said it was an early sign of "a protracted and maybe heightened standoff with Putin's Russia."
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The US ability to store nuclear weapons in the UK is to be upgraded with new money for military infrastructure, US defense documents show. 

Biden's 2023 Department of Defense budget request to NATO shows that the military alliance has added the UK to a list of countries receiving $384 million (R5.6 billion) in investments to store "special weapons."

Other countries receiving this funding are Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, where the USA stores an estimated 150 American B-61 nuclear gravity bombs, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. 

The director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, Hans Kristensen, first broke the story of the UK "quietly" being added to the infrastructure program. While not detailed in the budget, the former US airbase at RAF Lakenheath, near Cambridge, eastern England, was the most likely site being upgraded to store nuclear weapons, Kristensen's said.

The US decommissioned its Lakenheath base and the nuclear weapons store in 2008. Before they were mothballed, the 33 underground storage vaults could hold 110 nuclear bombs.

In his article, Kristensen added that he does not believe this signifies a new deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe. It would not be in line with NATO's "cautious nuclear response" to Putin's invasion of Ukraine. 

Kristensen believes the upgrade at the airbase is to "increase the flexibility of the existing nuclear deployment within Europe, without increasing the number of weapons." 

The executive director of the Arms Control Association, Daryl Kimball, told the Guardian that this upgrade is "an early sign that the US and Nato are preparing to engage in a protracted and maybe heightened standoff with Putin's Russia."

He said that the Biden administration "should provide some clarity about the military necessity and goals of possibly bringing nuclear weapons back to the UK."

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