Here in London, where I am based, I’ve written for TIME on several occasions about a strange arrangement that means that Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands are de facto nuclear weapons states. The U.S. stores 200 B-61 thermonuclear gravity bombs in those five European countries, and under a NATO agreement struck during the Cold War, the bombs can be transferred to the control of a host nation’s air force in time of conflict. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, European pilots fly training sorties in which they rehearse the detonation of nuclear bombs whose sole “tactical” purpose is to fend off the Russian army if it chooses to sweep across Central Europe in a kamikaze invasion. Absurd, I know.
Posted on April 26, 2011 by Xanthe Hall