MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) authorized the bomb lifespan upgrade on Monday. The B61-12 is expected to be integrated with existing NATO forces and the F-35 aircraft in order to enhance NATO nuclear posture in Europe.
"We condemn this decision. The B61-12 warheads are part of the US NATO presence in Europe," Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) spokesman Ian Chamberlain said. "Steps taken by the US to maintain its nuclear weapons system in Europe is obviously very provocative, particularly at a time when we have seen expansion of NATO to the East."
According to the NNSA, the B61-12 program will see the extension of the bomb lifespan, which contains the oldest components in the US arsenal, for at least 20 years, while improving its safety and reliability.
"Having US nuclear bombs in Europe conflicts with the legal obligations of the signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT forbids the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon states, but Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey are all non-nuclear," Chamberlain said.
He stressed that some of these countries had already asked for the nuclear weapons to be removed, but these requests have been ignored.
"This must stop immediately. The United States needs to fulfill its legal obligations with the immediate removal of nuclear warheads from non-nuclear states," Chamberlain said.
John Loretz, the program director at the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) organization, agreed that the deployment of upgraded B51-12 bombs at NATO bases in Europe was a destabilizing factor.
"Deploying redesigned B61-12 nuclear weapons at bases in Europe, as part of the NATO 'nuclear-sharing' agreement, can only further destabilize relations among the US, Russia, and European states that have tragically resumed a Cold War mentality," Loretz told Sputnik.
The first production unit of the B61-12 bomb is planned for 2020, according to NNSA.
The B61-12 LEP is a joint program of the NNSA and the US Air Force to maintain significant part of the US nuclear arsenal. Within the framework of the program, the B61-12 is expected to replace the existing US B61 bombs of its third, fourth, seventh and 10th modifications.