We STILL haven't gotten all the U.S. nuclear weapons out of Europe years after the end of the Cold War. What's up with that??? At the height of the Cold War the U.S. had thousands of tactical nuclear weapons scattered all over Europe, ready to launch, shoot, drop or bury had the Soviet Union launched an invasion of Europe. There were missiles, gravity bombs, artillery shells, and even land mines. Imagine driving over one of those!?!?!
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the German news organization, Spiegel that he wants to see all the remaining U.S. nuclear weapons removed from Germany, calling them "militarily obsolete". There are approximately 100 nuclear weapons currently stored in five European countries, and they are most likely all gravity bombs. With Trident prowling much of the Seven Seas these days, bombs are, indeed, passe.
Contrast Steinmeier with Chancellor Angela Merkel who spoke to the German Bundestag before the recent NATO summit, saying "that the German government still fully supported the NATO doctrine of 'nuclear sharing,' whereby non-nuclear states such as Germany host third-party nukes in order to get more say in decision-making. Hosting American nuclear weapons secures Berlin's "influence in the defense alliance, including in this highly sensitive area." So she's O.K. with "sharing" so long as she gets to covet a few of those bad boys. Hmmm. Sounds like nuke envy, doesn't it???
Of course, NATO is now a dinosaur; the Cold War ended long ago, and with it NATO's reason for living. But the alliance refuses to die; on the contrary, it just celebrated its 60th anniversary, and is looking for a new mission to justify its existence. And it has antagonized Russia by signing up as many ex-soviet bloc countries as it can get its hands on (not very sporting).
NATO "retains policies that promote the role of nuclear weapons and undermine the NPT. According to NATO's current Strategic Concept - up for review by 2009 - nuclear weapons provide the "supreme guarantee" of Alliance security" according to The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. What kind of guarantee is that? So during a war, the United States would give Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey and Greece permission to use their nukes. That certainly opens up a world of (nuclear) possibilities, doesn't it? I can just see them lining up at the drive (or fly) through window; "a dozen B61's please, and could you supersize those?"
This is an issue to watch. It will be important for President Obama, as he moves forward with negotiations with Russia, to address this issue decisively, not only for U.S. relations with Russia, but also to bolster the impoverished Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that is up for review in 2o1o. Anything that undermines the NPT must be dealt with, and the issue of a nuclear NATO must be addressed directly.
Check out NATO's nuclear sharing: A cold war anachronism that undermines the NPT at The Acronym Institute for an in depth analysis of NATO and nuclear weapons.