In the second half of September, the German television channel (ZDF - Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), claiming sensational information, informed the world public about the plans of the military-political leadership (CDF) of the USA to deploy 20 nuclear bombs (YAB) of the B61-12 type intended for rearmament in Germany Tornado tactical fighters of the German Air Force at Büchel Air Base.
This information has attracted particular attention from politicians, the international community and the media. In the majority of materials and comments of foreign experts, it was noted that the American tactical nuclear weapon (TNW) plays an allegedly political role in Europe and ensures the maintenance of political and military ties between the European and North American members of the alliance and regional stability, which is not supported by the analysis of strategic exercises. In addition, the information of the channel is not new, because the intentions in the next modernization of tactical nuclear weapons were announced in the current US nuclear strategy from the 2010 year.
The response statements of Russian politicians once again emphasized the destabilizing role of US tactical nuclear weapons, the violation by the Americans of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the deployment of the US global missile defense and its regional segments, and also considered various measures to restore strategic balance and parity.
In this regard, the authors, who have significant experience in military and operational service in the Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, offer the following analysis of the purpose, tasks and directions of modernization of US tactical nuclear weapons.
PURPOSE, TASKS, PLANNING AND MODERNIZATION
Since the end of the Cold War, around 150 – 200 nuclear bombs of type B61 with a total capacity of 18 Mt have been preserved and constantly upgraded in storage facilities in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Turkey. For their delivery to targets, about 350 F-15, F-16, Tornado GR aircraft have been planned. 1 and Harrier GR. 7 from the squadrons of the Air Forces of the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey.
In particular, according to American open sources, as of May 2014, the stock of American B61 air bombs in Europe was distributed to air bases as follows: Kleine Brogel air base (Belgium) - 20 bombs, Büchel (Germany) - 20, Aviano (Italy) - 50, Gedi Tore (Italy) - 20, Volkel (Netherlands) - 20, Injirlik (Turkey) - 50, all in Europe - 180 aerial bombs.
The need for content in Europe of US tactical nuclear weapons is defined in the NATO Strategic Concept of 2010: “As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. The Alliance’s security guarantee is based on the Alliance’s strategic nuclear forces, and in particular those belonging to the United States. The Allied security, along with the Alliance’s strategic nuclear forces, is based on NATO’s tactical nuclear forces. ” And so the response statement suggests itself: “As long as NATO remains a nuclear alliance, Russia will ensure the maintenance of combat readiness and the development of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. The US side should forget about negotiations to reduce TNW. ” In this regard, the muttering of US-NATO politicians in response to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the supply of new ICBMs to the troops and increasing the combat capabilities of the Russian strategic nuclear forces is puzzling.
US political directive No. 24, The Nuclear Weapons Strategy, signed by the US President in June 2013, confirmed that "the forward deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe will be maintained until NATO leaders decide that favorable conditions have been created for changing nuclear politicians". However, such conditions are still unknown, moreover, the US doctrinal documents provide for the increasing role and place of nuclear weapons in ensuring the security of the state and its allies and improving the forms and methods of its use.
The results of the analysis of the US strategic exercises show that the main tasks of the US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe are: regional (nuclear) deterrence of potential adversaries of NATO; the transfer of NATO tactical nuclear forces from peace to wartime and their dispersal; issuing nuclear bombs and preparing them for combat use; nuclear support for NATO DFGs during operations; demonstration of the US and NATO CDF readiness to launch nuclear strikes against targets of potential adversaries as part of deterrent actions; nuclear strikes on the destruction of strategic and critical facilities of Russia and the Republic of Belarus; ensuring reliable protection and defense of nuclear weapons, covering them from enemy air and ground attacks and the actions of terrorist formations; ensuring the safe operation of nuclear weapons, etc.
The military-political leadership (CDF) of the United States and NATO pays special attention to improving the planning system for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Thus, the development of nuclear policy and planning the use of TNW is carried out by the NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NSG), which includes representatives from all countries of the alliance. The group is subordinate to the High Level Group as an advisory body composed of government experts. NATO countries are involved in nuclear planning at the NSG and at the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Command of NATO, which carries out direct planning.
NATO’s CPD intends to more actively invite non-nuclear states of the alliance to participate in the NSG's work, solve the tasks of planning the use of tactical nuclear weapons, locate and prepare nuclear infrastructure in Europe, various consulting mechanisms on nuclear issues and the division of “nuclear responsibility”. Nine countries (Great Britain, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Poland, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and the Czech Republic) received such “active nuclear missions” as: air patrols, radar reconnaissance, communications, refueling of airplanes of the USAF and NATO airfields for receiving aircraft - carriers of tactical nuclear weapons and the implementation of various supporting activities. It is strange that the political leadership of these states and the population do not understand that they are becoming the objects of the use of nuclear forces and long-range precision weapons. It should be noted that only France is the only NATO country that is not part of the NSG, but at the same time advocating the preservation of US TNW in Europe. At the same time, unified planning of the use of NATO’s strategic and tactical nuclear forces is carried out by USC (Offut air base, Nebraska).
Regarding the modernization of the US nuclear weapons, the 2010 US nuclear strategy defines: “The tasks of deploying and using nuclear weapons outside the United States are considered exclusively within the framework of the negotiation process within NATO, and it is considered necessary: to maintain tactical nuclear weapons carrier tactical weapons in the arsenal (in currently F-16C / D and, as adopted, F-35); complete the program for extending the life of the B61 bombs, making them suitable for use by F-35 aircraft; build capacity for the proper storage of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of NATO allies. " In this regard, since 2013, the B61-3, -4, -7, -10 nuclear aerial bombs have been modernized and a controlled unified B61-12 aerial bomb has been created on their basis to equip promising F-35 fighter bomber and strategic aircraft aviation US Air Force. It is planned to equip the F-16A / B tactical fighters of the Belgian, Netherlands and Turkish air forces with this type of nuclear bomb, as well as the German and Italian Air Force Tornadoes, the F-15E, F-16C / D American tactical fighters, and the US Air Force B-2A strategic bombers . The US Air Force leadership plans to equip this type of bomb with all F-35A fighters in Europe by 2021, which will also be delivered by the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, and possibly Belgium. From the mid-2020s, the strategic bombers of the existing type and new generation will be re-equipped with B61-12 nuclear aerial bombs. By the way, the START Treaty will remain in force until February 5, 2020, so the Americans must declare YAB B61-12 as a new type of strategic offensive arms, which is unlikely.
The results of modernization are characterized as follows. The B61 nuclear aerial bombs undergo a Life Extension Program (LEP), during which four existing modifications must be replaced with one - B61-12. For LEP, the US government in March 2010 requested about 2 billion dollars to complete it by 2018. Work on the creation of the bombs are accelerated, and 1 July 2015, the message of the National Nuclear Security Administration of the US Department of Energy (NNSA - National Nuclear Security Administration), that at the site Tonopah (Nevada) was successfully tested aerial bombs B61-12. F-15 fighter-bomber was involved in the testing of the aerial bomb. Specialists from the Boeing Corporation, the Department of Energy and the United States Air Force participated in the tests. As a result of a trial reset, the Pentagon representatives collected the necessary telemetric information. According to NNSA, before the end of this year, two more such tests are planned to be carried out to obtain the necessary data. The entry into service of B61-12 completely ready-to-use nuclear bombs is planned for 2021 year. More than 1 billion dollars in the US are planned to be spent on this program, another 154 million dollars will be spent on work to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities in Europe.
US tactical - destabilizing factor in the old world
The “Russian threat” is forcing the NATO countries to intensify their actions in patrolling the air borders of the alliance. Photos from www.nato.int
It should be noted that in the 90-s, the Russian Federation removed nuclear weapons from the territory of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine and currently maintains them in centralized repositories. At the same time, the Americans retained their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of a number of the States members of the NATO bloc and repeatedly subjected it to modernization and replacement of individual elements. Currently, the United States refuses to withdraw TNW to the continental part of the state and eliminate nuclear infrastructure. Unfortunately, under US pressure, these countries confirmed the need to preserve American TNW in Europe as a guarantee of their own security.
It should be noted that the Americans, placing TNW on the territory of a number of countries - participants of the alliance, are in flagrant violation of Article I of the NPT: "Each of the States Parties to this Treaty possessing nuclear weapons does not commit to transfer to anyone nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and the control of such weapons or explosive devices directly or indirectly ... "
In addition, the United States and NATO countries also violate Article II of the Treaty: “Each of the non-nuclear weapon States parties to this Treaty undertakes not to accept transfers of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices from anyone, as well as control over such weapons ... "
The so-called practice of “sharing nuclear weapons” within the NATO bloc leads to a violation of these articles. According to a statement by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova, “drills (exercises) related to the preparation and use of tactical nuclear weapons by personnel of armed forces of states that do not possess such weapons also constitute a direct violation of Articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” . It is also known that US Air Force instructors, in violation of the NPT, train and engage in strategic exercises to develop training tasks in the use of Polish and Baltic pilots' nuclear bombs.
Anatoly Antonov, Deputy Defense Minister of the Russian Federation, has repeatedly stressed: “The deployment of US tactical nuclear weapons in non-nuclear countries goes beyond the NPT. Tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe can theoretically be delivered to the borders of the Russian Federation in a short time, while Russian TNW cannot be transferred in a short time to the US border, and it does not pose a threat to US security. Nuclear weapons must be returned to the United States, and the infrastructure must be destroyed. ” Anatoly Antonov called a strategic aerial bomb test a provocation and accused the United States of the stubborn reluctance of the “American side to refuse to involve non-nuclear NATO member states in joint nuclear missions that are in direct conflict with NPT obligations.
In addition, the United States and its nuclear allies (Great Britain and France) do not comply with the provisions of Article VI: “Each party to this Treaty undertakes to negotiate in good faith on effective measures to end the nuclear arms race in the near future and nuclear disarmament ...” Results analysis of informational materials show that Americans spend “paper” cuts of their strategic offensive weapons, they reach the declared levels by unloading platforms for the breeding of missile heads and create a return potential. In turn, the nuclear allies of the United States do not even think of joining contractual processes to reduce their strategic offensive arms. The American leadership also showed complete indifference to the support of the Russian-Chinese initiative for the globalization of the INF Treaty, which led to its failure and the growth in the number of countries possessing medium and short-range missiles.
Thus, an international treaty signed by almost all countries of the world is interpreted by the UPR of the United States at its discretion. By applying a set of sanctions against Iran and the DPRK that have not yet created nuclear weapons, demanding the implementation of the NPT by a number of other “de facto nuclear states”, the US side shows complete disrespect for this important treaty act that laid the fundamental international legal basis for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons on a global scale.
Further. The provisions of the nuclear strategy and political directive of US President No. 24 adapt the military doctrinal guidelines of the US nuclear policy to the new conditions of the military-political and strategic situation. At the same time, Article 19 of the Strategic Concept of NATO provides for “ensure the widest participation of all allies in nuclear planning, the solution of questions of the deployment of nuclear forces in peacetime, as well as in the management, control and consultation”. In this regard, NATO’s nuclear expansion to the east is being carried out, infrastructure facilities are being prepared for the tactical nuclear forces on the territory of the new members of the block, which creates threats to the security of the Russian Federation. Thus, in the Baltic countries, infrastructure objects were prepared for the basing of aircraft carrying TNW and they are being mastered during exercises (Zokniai air base, Lithuania; Lillevard, Latvia; Amari, Estonia). At the same time, strategic and critical facilities of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus are within the reach of aircraft carrying tactical nuclear weapons. Taking into account the inclusion of tanker aircraft in the NATO OWC and the adoption of the strategic bombs of B61-12, US tactical nuclear weapons should be qualified as strategic. According to expert estimates, the redeployment of aircraft carriers - NATO's NATO SARS to advanced airfields in Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic countries is within reach of the whole territory of the Republic of Belarus and the European part of Russia.
It is important to emphasize that the United States is the only state in the world that has concluded special agreements with a large group of NATO member countries on the division of “nuclear responsibility”. This makes it possible not only to contain tactical nuclear weapons in these non-nuclear states, but also to conduct strategic exercises with them on the delivery of training JABs and their conditional use for ground targets. At the same time, 15 members of NATO have joined such agreements, and 27 from 28 of the countries of the alliance participate in the consultations held within the framework of the Nuclear Planning Group. Such exercises are conducted at the air bases of the Baltic States in the framework of the round-the-clock and year-round operation Baltic Air Policing (Baltic Air Policing), which uses dual-use aircraft capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions to targets. Such an operation against Russia is clearly provocative.
According to the views of the representatives of the military-political leadership of the Russian Federation, the maintenance and modernization of US tactical nuclear weapons and the conduct of strategic exercises “leads to an increase in tension on the European continent, which can lead to a violation of the strategic balance in Europe. When confirming the delivery of upgraded strategic nuclear bombs B61-12 to Büchel (Germany), Russia will need to take countermeasures to restore strategic balance and parity. Relevant statements were made by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov 23 September 2015. In addition to the deployment of unique Iskander-M missile systems, a significant set of operational, organizational and technical measures to counter tactical nuclear threats to the security of the Russian Federation and its allies was developed. It was stated that nuclear planning of the Russian Federation took into account the facilities of tactical nuclear weapons, SPRYAU, missile defense, government and military authorities and points, administrative-political centers and a significant number of critical facilities in the territory of the NATO member states. The simulation results show that the destruction of such objects will lead to disruption of the functioning of states, chaos and panic in Europe, the flow of refugees (apparently to the Middle East), etc. In addition, objects with nuclear weapons, missile defense and aircraft carrier base have significant dimensions, are arealic, have low survivability and poor physical security. The unstable operation of technical means of protection, warning alarm and video surveillance is noted.
Modernization of nuclear bombs and all work with nuclear warheads are carried out in the continental part of the United States. It is known that the US nuclear weapons complex is in an unsatisfactory state. Under the conditions of compliance with the moratorium on nuclear testing, measures to confirm the reliability, safety and extension of the operating life of nuclear warheads are carried out formally. According to American scientists, the use of supercomputers to simulate thermonuclear reactions cannot replace field tests. The delivery of nuclear warheads to the United States and back is carried out by the forces and means of the Joint Command of the strategic redeployment of the US Armed Forces, which are attractive targets for air and ground-based terrorist attacks. It seems that these and other US-NATO problems could become the basis for the preparation and conduct of offensive information campaigns from numerous information structures of ministries and departments of Russia, but this is not happening!
Meanwhile, the deputy head of the NNSA press service, Shelly Laver, denied the German TV report that the B61-12 aerial bombs were stationed on its territory. The German ambassador to Russia, Rüdiger von Fritsch, officially stated that no new JAB supplies are planned at all, but only the replacement of “components, assemblies whose service life has ended.”
In conclusion, it seems necessary to note that in the conditions when the USA modernizes strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, deploys a global missile defense system and its regional segments, has nuclear allies (Great Britain, France) and implements a set of operational and technical measures to promote nuclear weapons to the east, the destabilizing role of US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is obvious.