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RAF MILDENHALL, England — More than 15 years after the Berlin Wall crumbled and signaled the end of the Cold War, America maintains a nuclear arsenal in Europe of 480 weapons, a report from an environmental group claims.

The report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, headquartered in New York City, released this month said there is no rationale for their presence.

“It’s having one foot stuck in the Cold War,” said Hans Kristensen, author of “U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe,” during a telephone interview with Stars and Stripes.

The 100-page report said the U.S. nuclear arsenal in Europe is larger than the entire nuclear weapons stockpile of any nation except Russia. The United States is the only country that deploys such weapons outside its own boundaries.

The NRDC is a nonprofit organization created in 1970 and dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Its 1 million members are scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists.

Kristensen based his report on declassified documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, military publications, commercial satellite imagery and other documents, according to a press release that accompanies the report.

In the interview, he mentioned another source.

“People talk,” he said. “People like to talk about what they do.”

The report said weapons are stored at eight bases in six countries: Germany, England, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Germany has more American nukes stored within its borders than any other country, Kristensen said in the report. The United States keeps as many as 150 nuclear arms at U.S. bases in Germany, he said.

There are 110 weapons stored at RAF Lakenheath, England. Bases in Italy and Turkey each store 90 weapons. Bases in Belgium and the Netherlands each store 20 nuclear weapons, according to the report.

Lt. Cmdr. Rick Haupt, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, would not comment on the details cited in the report.

“It’s been a long-standing policy that the U.S. does not comment on numbers and locations and capabilities of nuclear weapons,” he said in a telephone interview with Stars and Stripes.

However, Haupt did acknowledge that maintaining a nuclear arsenal in Europe is part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s security policy. The alliance, he said, believes the nuclear forces “provide an essential political and military link between European and North American members of the alliance.” He said the number will continue to be the “minimum sufficient level to preserve peace and stability.”

Kristensen said, “That’s like saying we have them here because we used to have them here. There have to be real tough reasons and urgent reasons for having weapons like that anywhere.”

The weapons are simple gravity bombs, Kristensen wrote in his report. In the interview, he said their removal could be quick and simple.

“They’re very easily moved,” he said. “You just roll them up in a C-141 and fly them wherever you want. You could move these things in an afternoon.”

Kristensen said the United States did remove thousands of nuclear weapons from Europe following the Soviet Union’s collapse, but left 480 behind.


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