Since we learned that US nukes are coming back to Britain, CND has been busy organising a protest at RAF Lakenheath airbase in Suffolk – RAF in name only, run by the US Air Force. Transport is bringing protestors from around the country – Sheffield, Bradford, Manchester, East Midlands, London.
As news that US nuclear weapons are coming to Britain again begins to spread, CND has organised our first protest at RAF/USAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. With the cooperation of local CND groups, the Stop UK nukes coming to Lakenheath protest takes place outside the base on Saturday 21 May, 13.00 to 15.00. CND groups across the country are already mobilising.
The United States is the only country that sites its nuclear weapons outside its own territory. The return of US nukes to Britain will increase global tensions and put the UK on the front line of a Nato/Russia war.
What’s happening at Lakenheath is part of an upgrade of US/Nato nuclear facilities across Europe. Increasing Nato’s capacity to wage nuclear war in Europe is dangerously destabilising and further undermines the prospects of international peace.
It’s vital that we build the biggest opposition to siting US nuclear weapons in Britain. It means spreading the word across the labour movement, and that’s up to us all.
Labour CND will play our part in keeping you up to scratch with developments in the weeks and months ahead.
Labour CND Chair Carol Turner’s blog on the Ukraine crisis launches with the announcement that the UK is about to become the sixth European Nato member to host American nuclear weapons. Keep tuned in for updates
The world is closer to nuclear war than we’ve been for decades, closer perhaps than ever before. Strained relations between Russia and the US over Nato’s eastward expansion touched boiling point at the end of February, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was followed by the announcement that Russian nukes were being moved to special alert.
What’s needed is cool council, encouragement to de-escalate the war and negotiate a stable end to this dangerous conflict. Instead, the belligerent rhetoric of the US, Britain and other European Nato members adds weight to the emerging view that Nato would welcome a long and protracted war in order to exhaust Russia – and consequences for the people of Ukraine be damned.
Against this looming possibility of nuclear war, a report by Hans Kristensen, Nuclear Information Project Director at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) gives cause for us to be very afraid. The UK, he says, is set to become the sixth European Nato member to host American nuclear weapons on our territory.
Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey already have US nuclear weapons stationed within their borders. FAS estimates around 100 US nuclear bombs are deployed in these five countries.
US Department of Defence (DoD) documents suggest the UK has been added to the list of nuclear weapons storage locations. Kristensen believes RAF Lakenheath, 80 miles northeast of London, is likely to be that facility. In the past, Lakenheath was used to store US Air Force (USAF) nuclear gravity bombs. The facilities to do so are still intact.
This analysis by FAS comes as Lakenheath is getting ready to become the first USAF base in Europe equipped with the latest generation of nuclear-capable fighter-bomber aircraft. The first of the F-35As arrived at Lakenheath in December last year; the US is due to begin training in the next 12 months.
Kristensen points out there is no public indication from Nato yet that it intends to store nuclear bombs in Lakenheath. He speculates that its upgrade ‘could potentially be intended to increase the flexibility of the existing nuclear deployment within Europe, without increasing the number of weapons’. In other words, with a war with Russia in the offing, Lakenheath could receive nuclear weapons from existing European Nato locations to ‘better realign the overall nuclear posture in Europe’.
Arms Control Association Director Daryl Kimball, however, told the Guardian he saw the upgrade of the UK storage facilities as: ‘an early sign that the US and Nato are preparing to engage in a protracted and maybe heightened standoff with Putin’s Russia.’
Meanwhile, the British government is working hand in glove with Nato and the US on Ukraine. Prime Minister Johnson’s recent announcement of increased military assistance to President Zelensky, including supplying offensive weaponry, is fanning the flames of a war that could stretch across Europe and beyond.
Keeping the people of Britain safe should be foremost amongst the UK government’s concerns. Creating the conditions for siting American nuclear weapons in Britain is tantamount to painting a target on the back of everyone in the UK.
This Tory government could and should be playing a supportive role in negotiations to end the Ukraine conflict, not helping escalate it. And Labour should be demanding it do so from across the opposition benches, not trailing in Johnson’s wake.
Read Hans Kristensen full report, Lakenheath Air Base Added To Nuclear Weapons Storage Site Upgrades, 11 April 2022 here
See Julian Borger and Sam Sabbagh, UK military vaults upgraded to store new US nuclear weapons, Guardian 12 April 2022 here