Is Poland Mulling Hosting NATO Nukes?

© REUTERS / Kacper PempelA Polish soldier stands near US and Poland's national flags and a NATO flag in Swidwin, northern west Poland, April 23, 2014
A Polish soldier stands near US and Poland's national flags and a NATO flag in Swidwin, northern west Poland, April 23, 2014 - Sputnik International
Warsaw is considering whether to join other European nations in deploying nuclear arms on its territory, Poland’s deputy defense minister said on Saturday.

Tomasz Szatkowski told local media that the ministry was discussing whether to ask for access to NATO’s “nuclear sharing” program, which allows non-nuclear states to borrow the arms from the United States.

However, the Polish Defense Ministry was quick to deny having any such plans.

“The Defense Ministry is not engaged in any kind of work aimed at getting access to nuclear arms by joining NATO’s nuclear sharing program,” state-run television quoted a ministry spokesman as saying later in the day.

He also reminded that Poland is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Last month, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski called on the NATO members to invalidate the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security with Russia, which pledges that the alliance will not permanently station substantial combat forces or nuclear weapons in Eastern and Central Europe.

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The United States, France and Britain are the only members of the 28-nation Western defense alliance to have nuclear arsenals, but only the US has made nuclear weapons available to allies as part of the “nuclear sharing” program.

Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey have at various times hosted US nuclear weapons as part of the program.

In June, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced plans to deploy 250 battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, alongside enough equipment to arm some 5,000 NATO troops across six eastern European nations, including Poland.

The agreement between Warsaw and Washington is another in a series of steps aimed at beefing up security in Poland, including NATO training activities and the deployment of a US Patriot missile battery on a rotational basis on Polish soil.

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