The armed forces of Germany and 13 other NATO countries began on Monday, October 18, an annual exercise to defend the alliance’s territory with nuclear weapons. The “Steadfast Noon” exercise involves dozens of aircraft, including nuclear-armed fighters, conventional combat aircraft, and tankers and reconnaissance aircraft, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization pointed out.
According to official figures, the exercises this year are being held in airspace over the southern territory of the alliance. This means that as part of the maneuvers, the use of American B61 nuclear bombs, which, according to unconfirmed reports, are stored at the Gedi military airbase in northern Italy, can be practiced. At the same time, the exact location and other details of the exercises in NATO are not disclosed. Flight data by Danish nuclear weapons expert Hans Christensen said that a German Tornado fighter plane landed at Gedi airfield on Monday.
According to military experts, during the Resilient Noon maneuvers, among other things, the transportation of American nuclear weapons from underground storage facilities and their attachment to fighters will be practiced. However, training flights will be carried out without bombs.
American nuclear warheads in Europe
“Given the deteriorating security environment in Europe, a reliable and united nuclear alliance is critical,” NATO said in an earlier press release. At the same time, the organization stressed that after the end of the Cold War, the number of nuclear weapons on European territory was sharply reduced.
NATO’s nuclear policy provides that partner countries can use US warheads deployed in Europe in an emergency. According to officially unconfirmed reports, American atomic weapons are stationed, including in Belgium, Turkey, the Netherlands, as well as in the German Büchel in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Russia will suspend the work of its permanent mission to NATO
On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the permanent mission of the Russian Federation to NATO would suspend its work from the beginning of November. This is how Russia decided to respond to the decision of the North Atlantic Alliance to revoke the accreditation of eight employees of the Russian permanent mission from November 1 of this year, motivated by the fact that they were undeclared employees of Russian intelligence.
Withdrawal of Russia and the United States from the INF Treaty
At present, experts assess the threat of nuclear war as significantly higher than in the past three decades. The reason is the withdrawal of the United States and Russia from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty).
The reason for the termination of the agreement was the development by Russia of the 9M729 missile (SSC-8 according to the classification of the North Atlantic Alliance), capable of flying more than 500 kilometers. Washington and NATO believe that Moscow has thereby violated the treaty. Russia recognizes the presence of the missile, but claims that it does not violate the INF Treaty.
Intermediate and shorter-range missiles pose the greatest threat to the world, since they are capable of reaching a target within a few minutes and leave the enemy no chance to prepare for a strike and repel it.