According to US government budget documents, RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk is set to be upgraded with the ability to store B61-12 nuclear bombs. However, the MOD has refused to say whether US nuclear weapons would be returning to the UK. During the Cold war, the US maintained a stockpile on the base, run by Americans.
According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), RAF Lakenheath had 33 underground storage vaults, where 110 B61 bombs were stored back in the 1990s.
But now, Hans Kristensen, the director of the nuclear information project at the FAS, believes the gravity bombs are returning to the UK.
The US Department of Defense document reads: “NATO funds infrastructure required to store special weapons within secure sites and facilities.
“NATO is wrapping up a thirteen-year, $384 million infrastructure investment program at storage sites in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, and Turkey to upgrade security measures, communication systems and facilities.”
This comes as earlier this year, the airfield received its first batch of the F-35A Lightning II, which is a new generation of nuclear-capable US combat aircraft, the first of its kind deployed in Europe.
In a written answer to Parliament, Defence Minister James Heappey said: “The MoD is unable to comment on US spending decisions and capabilities, which are a matter for the US government.
“It remains the longstanding UK and Nato policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location.”
Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, warned that the upgrade of the UK storage facilities is “an early sign that the US and Nato are preparing to engage in a protracted and maybe heightened standoff with Putin’s Russia”.
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“Putin couldn’t be more annoyed, he already thinks we are involved in the war and he already thinks he is in a battle with NATO.
“We were prepared to go into Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine is a European country and on our border.
“We can’t just sit by and see what happened in Bucha, see the devastation, and stand by while Putin ups the stakes with these war crimes.”