March 12, 3:07
WASHINGTON, February 4 (Itar-Tass) — The US and Russia should remove tactical nuclear weapons from their forward bases in Europe, which will help to start the next stage of cutting down nuclear arsenals.
This initiative was put forth in Munich on Friday where the 48th conference on security questions, members of the international Russia-NATO commission “Global zero” opened in this Bavarian province. It consists of 15 prominent experts in disarmament and national security and crusades for complete destruction of nuclear weapons by 2030.
The commission is part of the self-name international campaign that was launched in 2008 at the founding conference in Paris, that gathered prominent political, military, business and public leaders.
Commission co-chairman, Ambassador Richard Burton and head of the American delegation at talks with the Soviet Union on the reduction of strategic weapons in the past, noted at a news conference in Munich that the US and Russia could immediately start examining the question on pulling out their tactical nuclear warheads from European forward bases.
This would open the door for the next stage for slashing down American and Russian nuclear weapons, both strategic and tactical, he added.
The commission believes that following the ratification by Washington and Moscow of the new START Treaty, progress in decreasing nuclear weapons stymied. Now, Russia and the US should start, without delay, at least preliminary discussion on pulling out tactical warheads from European forward bases so as to start, on these grounds, broader negotiations, aimed at cutting down nuclear arsenals down to the level of 1,000 warheads by each side, including tactical ones.
Commission members emphasized that this would help to create conditions for subsequent important moves in liquidating nuclear weapons all over the world, inviting China and other nuclear states to history’s first multinational talks on reduction offensive weapons.
According to American experts, the Pentagon has around 200 tactical nuclear bombs B-61, stationed at six bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. There are around 60-70 such charges at the Turkish Incirlik air base and 22 – at the German Buechel air base.
US expenses for maintaining B-61 in a combat-ready state and their upkeep in Europe costs around 2.1 billion dollars annually.
According to the same experts, Russia has over 2,000 tactical warheads.