THE Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has written to the US authorities at RAF Lakenheath, informing them of its intention to carry out a citizens’ weapons inspection today, Saturday 23 September. The inspection is part of CND’s national day of action, which includes local events by CND groups in their own communities, against the return of US nuclear weapons to Britain.
One hundred and ten free-fall B61 nuclear bombs were sited at RAF Lakenheath until 2008, when they were removed following sustained protest by CND and other campaigners. However, CND says there is mounting evidence that the base is being primed for the return of an upgraded version – the B61-12.
- April 2022: The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) spots the addition of the UK to a US government defence contract for the upgrade of nuclear storage bunkers to safely store the new B61-12 guided nuclear bomb.
- June 2022: The BBC reports that the US will double the nuber of squadrons of the nuclear-capable F-35 fighter jet based at Lakenheath.
- November 2022: It is suggested that the US has pushed forward its deployment schedule for the B61-12 to European bases to spring 2023.
- November 2022: The C-17 Globemaster III aircraft is cleared to transport the B61-12 to US/NATO bases in Europe.
- August 2023: The Federation of American Scientists reports on more US Air Force documents, this time for the construction of accommodation for a potential ‘surety mission’ at RAF Lakenheath. The term ‘surety’ is used to refer to keeping nuclear weapons safe. FAS says this strongly implies that a US nuclear presence is being re-established in Britain.
- September 2023: Snap polling by YouGov finds that 59 per cent of the British public opposes the return of US nuclear weapons to Britain.
Citizens’ Weapons Inspections
Citizens’ weapons inspections (CWI) have a strong tradition in the peace movement as a method of uncovering the often clandestine nature of military deployments. CND’s CWI team is undertaking this action to hold both the US and UK governments to account, to alert and educate the public about the dangers of deploying US nuclear weapons to Britain, and to call on the UK government to block this deployment.
CND Chair Tom Unterrainer said: “We’re carrying out this citizens’ weapons inspection in order to unmask the secrecy behind this deployment on behalf of the British public. By upgrading and increasing its nuclear presence in Europe, the US/NATO is putting European citizens on a collision course with Russia – who have already responded by stationing their own warheads in Belarus. The war in Ukraine has the potential to escalate into a wider conflict involving nuclear-armed states. If the deployment of the B61-12 to Britain goes ahead, it all but ensures Britain will become a nuclear wasteland in the event of such a war.”
CND Vice-Chair Sophie Bolt said: “The upgrade of US nuclear infrastructure is nearing completion, with bases across Europe set the receive the B61-12, if they have not done so already. NATO nuclear doctrine endorses a first use policy, so these bombs – which use guided targeting for greater accuracy – are not intended for defensive purposes. Their method of delivery, the F-35, is a stealth fighter with a range of 2,200km. This suggests that they will be used to target Russia – and therefore put us on the front line in any future US/NATO war with Russia.”
The action will take place at RAF Lakenheath main gate, Brandon Road, Suffolk
from 12 noon to 12:30.
* Source: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament