Are US nuclear weapons coming to Britain again?

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

Labour CND’s 2022 conference

Register now for Labour CND’s not-to-be-missed annual conference. We’ll be debating the way forward for a Labour foreign policy based on peace, people and planet, with:

Richard Burgon MP // Tom Unterrainer CND Chair // Margaret Kimberly Black Alliance for Peace // Katy Clark MSP// Jess Barnard  Young Labour // Stuart Parkinson Scientists for Global Responsibility // Mish Rahman NEC // Sam Mason Labour CND’s climate specialist // with a musical interlude from Labour CND’s own Sam Browse.

Events in Ukraine bring the prospect of nuclear war closer. The AUKUS pact with Australia and the US intensifies a new Cold War with China. The British government is pledged to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile. Energy price hikes have renewed dthe role of nuclear power in the UK’s energy mix.

Now more than ever Labour needs a foreign policy based on peace and climate justice.

Labour Women’s Conference 2022: emergency motion on Ukraine

Annual women’s conference is coming up on 19-20 March. There’s still time to submit Labour CND’s emergency motion on Ukraine – but only just. Act now to get your CLP / women’s branch to submit it in time for the deadline of 12 noon on Tuesday 8 March, and please circulate to others to do likewise.

More deadlines and delegates info on the Labour’ Party webpage

If you’re a delegate to women’s conference, think about signing up to CLPD conference info to keep in touch with others and get info on motions, composites and more by following this link

And last but not least, please vote for Gillian Arrindell, Jean Crocker and Selina Norgrove for the 3 CLP places on the Women’s Conference Arrangements Committee.

No nuclear war. De-escalate the crisis in Ukraine

Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, whose country is paying a heavy economic and human price for this conflict. But this conflict also presents a much wider threat: the existential threat of a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. Join CND in calling for an end to conflict in Ukraine to avert the threat of nuclear war:

As the crisis in Ukraine escalates, the risk of nuclear war comes ever closer. President Biden pointed out last week that war between the US and Russia would be World War III, yet this possibility is closer than ever before. The entry of Russian forces into Ukraine makes diplomacy more urgent, not less.  Yet British political leaders continue to denigrate diplomatic initiatives, even as the conflict intensifies.

Rather than refusing to talk with the Russian leadership, the US administration must get to the negotiating table, to address all the fundamental issues in this conflict, including how to make the Minsk agreements work. Rather than further escalating the  conflict and militarisation of the region, the US must  recognise the risk of nuclear war and do everything possible to  achieve a peaceful solution.

Read CND’s latest statement and take a look at Kate Hudson’s blog here
Read Labour CND’s statement on Nato here

Take action

>>> Join CND’s international rally, in partnership with Code Pink and Stop the War, on Saturday 26 February, No War in Ukraine, No to Nato
>>> Get a free No Nuclear War poster here
>>> Print you own window poster here

LABOUR CND statement on Nato-Ukraine-Russia

Military posturing fans the flames of war in Europe

Keir Starmer has chosen the moment of mounting tensions over Ukraine to announce that ‘Labour’s commitment to Nato is unshakable’, attempting to justify his stance with selective and inaccurate statements about the defensive and democratic character of the North Atlantic Alliance and accusing those who disagree of showing solidarity with Putin.

Nato is not ‘a defensive alliance that has never provoked conflict’ nor does it provide a ‘guarantee of democracy and security’ as the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere will readily testify, whose countries have been shattered and lives destroyed by two decades of war.

Neither has Nato ‘ushered in what is now approaching three-quarters of a century of peace between the nations of Europe’. Nato’s bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999 was the first military attack on a sovereign European country since the end of World War II. It took place without UN approval and is widely regarded as illegal under international law.

Even Denis Healey, who Starmer describes as a ‘giant of the Labour movement’, argued: ‘It was a terrible mistake to attack a sovereign state without even consulting the United Nations… we should have asked Richard Holbrooke [US ambassador to the UN] to have another go at negotiation.’

In contradistinction to the benign picture Starmer seeks to paint, Nato’s evolution includes:

  • The North Atlantic Alliance is a nuclear-armed alliance committed to using nuclear weapons pre-emptively in a military conflict whether or not its adversaries possess nuclear weapons. Since the 1950s, Nato has rejected successive calls to adopt a nuclear no-first use policy.
  • Declassified US documents testify to the fact that the use of nuclear weapons was actively considered during Nato’s first military engagement, the Korean war of 1950-53.
  • The Warsaw Pact dissolved in July 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. By contrast Nato extended its area of operations. In the ensuing three decades, it has expanded its mission statement and enlarged its membership.
  • There are currently 30 Nato member states. Additionally, Nato works with 40 non-member partner states across the globe on a wide range of political and security-related issues. Full Nato members in East Europe include Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Albania, and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which border Russia. Nato partners with borders on Russia include Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Russia’s near abroad – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – are also Nato partners.
  • Three Nato members are nuclear weapons states – Britain, France and the US. Five European members – Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey – host US nuclear weapons on their territories and are pledged to deploy them if Nato so commands.

Tensions between Nato and Russia have been building for three decades. Ukraine must not become the pretext for a military clash between two nuclear armed adversaries.

Labour CND calls for de-escalation and dialogue, not a build-up of armaments and troops leading to the brink of a war in which the people of Ukraine will be the losers. This is a strategy of sanity, in contrast to the military posturings of Britain and the US which fan the flames of war in Europe.

Download a copy for circulation here