Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 25, October 26, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

NATO Nuclear War Exercise "Steadfast Noon"

US and Britain and NATO Escalate Ukraine Crisis with Nuclear Rehearsal in Europe

On Monday October 17, the US and Britain and their NATO allies started a nuclear war exercise "Steadfast Noon" in Europe with recent statements and threats aimed at further escalating their Ukraine proxy-war against Russia with a nuclear rehearsal in Europe. According to reports, aircraft are to rehearse dropping B61 and B61-12 "tactical" thermonuclear bombs on Europe, each of which is up to 20 times more powerful than the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima in World War II, killing as many as 126,000 civilians.

NATO nuclear weapons in Europe, 2022 - Graphic: Federation of American Scientists

This comes at a time the US, Britain and its NATO allies are making no attempt to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and find a peaceful solution based on the interests of the peoples of Ukraine and Russia, Europe and the world. On the contrary, the US and Britain in particular are stepping up their direct involvement in arming and training of Ukrainian forces. This they started over 10 years ago, prior to an Anglo-US backed coup in 2014 that brought to power an anti-Russian government. Now the the US and Britain and their NATO allies are "indirectly" participating in a war against Russia using advanced weapons that are being unleashed against the population of Ukraine and Russia. In defending the "Steadfast Noon" rehearsals, British Defence Minister Ben Wallace said that these nuclear exercises in Europe "are routine", although previously NATO now admits that they normally took place in secret. Even the name "Steadfast Noon" was only declassified four years ago. But there is nothing routine about these exercises; they are not aimed at peace but at nuclear war and are not even in accordance with the UN Treaty [1] on nuclear disarmament adopted by 122 countries which legally came into force on January 22, 2021.

According to the Associated Press reports, there are claims that the "war games" will be held at least 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) from Russia's borders. Flights will take place "over Belgium, which is hosting 'Steadfast Noon' this year, as well as over the North Sea and the United Kingdom". The exercises involve fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads, "but do not involve any live bombs". However, these claims are coming at a time when NATO is routinely conducting military flights close to Russian and Chinese borders and where these exercises are openly aimed against "foreign powers". The reports go on to say that at least 14 of NATO's 30 member countries are due to take part in the exercises, running until October 30, and, flying in the face of its claim of now acting in transparency, "NATO is not permitting any media access."

In the previous week before the start of the nuclear rehearsal, US President Biden claimed that the the risk of nuclear "Armageddon" is the highest it has been for 60 years. Following that statement the US White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby was forced to "row back" to reporters [2] after Biden's comment. He admitted that, as he told reporters, "we've seen no indication, nothing that tells us Mr Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction at all inside Ukraine". He continued, "And we've seen no indication that the Russian apparatus is moving anything to prepare for that kind of a decision." However, as one report highlighted [3], "NATO's secretive Nuclear Planning Group met on Thursday [October 13] with the military pact planning to hold a nuclear exercise next week. Analysts said NATO's moves highlight the US' purpose of showing a tough stance to Russia, which would further pour oil onto the fire and fan the flames of t he escalating Ukraine crisis."

NATO nuclear bomb vaults in Europe - Graphic: Federation of American Scientists

It should be noted that only three of NATO's 30 allies have nuclear weapons - the US, Britain and France - with Britain being the main nuclear ally of the US. France plays no direct role in NATO's nuclear "deterrence" and is not part of the alliance's Nuclear Planning Group. It should also be noted that, most recently, Ukraine's President called on NATO to carry out "pre-emptive" nuclear strikes against Russia. Western sources tried to claim that it was "taken out of context" with no response from western leaders. But British defence secretary Ben Wallace was quick to rebuke Emmanuel Macron after the French president ruled out France's launching a nuclear strike on Russia.

Britain's nuclear role close to the US was further revealed on October 18 with a report [4] pointing out: "Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is on a hastily-arranged visit to Washington to talk with his counterpart and White House officials about 'shared security concerns' including Ukraine and Russia, a source and an official said. The secretive, last-minute nature of the trip and a comment by a second defence minister, James Heappey - who said the conversations that Mr Wallace would be having on Tuesday were 'beyond belief' - suggested particularly sensitive and serious issues would be discussed." This, when the evidence shows that this year Britain has been secretly negotiating hosting US nuclear weapons again at Lakenheath and other US bases in Britain [5]. Reports [6] also say that the US B61 nuclear bombs, currently stored at various air bases around Europe - including the Luftwaffe military base at Büchel in Germany - are due to be modernised and replaced by B61-12 bombs. These are allegedly more precision-guided and may be deployed with variable explosive power. The reports say that military officials and strategists are thus speculating on their tactical use on regional battlefields and that the most recent US nuclear strategy accessible to the public has declared that, in principle, such deployments are "permitted". According to these reports, NATO is also not ruling out such use.

Peace-loving people all over the world demand an end to this participating in global warmongering and nuclear war escalation. The problems and security of the peoples of Europe cannot be settled by escalating such a conflict but only by identifying the role played by the US, Britain and the NATO ruling elites as the real threat to peace in Europe in provoking this war in Ukraine against Russia, and now in escalating it in such a way as to be so dangerous to world peace. The working class and people must continue to fight for peace and for the necessity of an anti-war government.

1. UN Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by the Conference (by a vote of 122 States in favour, with one vote against and one abstention) at the United Nations on 7 July 2017, and opened for signature by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 20 September 2017. Following the deposit with the Secretary-General of the 50th instrument of ratification or accession of the Treaty on 24 October 2020, it entered into force on 22 January 2021 in accordance with its article 15.,Nations%20on%2020%20September%202017
2. Kirby: "No indication that Putin has decided to use nuclear weapons" - The Hill, October 10 2022
3."NATO's nuclear talks, exercises seek to escalate Ukraine crisis, exhaust Moscow, Kiev: analysts" - Global Times, October 13 2022
4. "Ukraine war: Mysterious defence secretary trip to Washington amid fears of Russian escalation" - Sky News, October 19 2022
5. "No US Nukes at Lakenheath! PROTEST" - Workers' Weekly, May 21 2022
6. "NATO Nuclear War Exercise" - German Foreign Policy, October 14 2022


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