THE Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) says the recent visit of US Deputy Defence Secretary Kathleen Hicks to RAF Lakenheath is further proof that Washington is preparing the Suffolk airbase to host new US nuclear weapons in Britain.

Hicks’ tour included an inspection of “infrastructure improvements” at RAF Lakenheath. Among the works previously revealed in US Air Force budgetary documents are: upgrades to the special weapons hangers so they can store the new B61-12 guided nuclear bomb; rapid airfield damage repair facilities; and a 144-bed “surety dormitory” for US Air Force personnel. In US military terminology, the word “surety” is used to refer to the handling of nuclear weapons.

CND has already challenged the planning rights used for the dormitory – which so far has not received an environmental impact assessment ahead of its planned construction next year. CND believes that the construction of buildings for the purpose of a nuclear weapons mission poses an outstanding environmental risk. It argues that the presence of nuclear weapons will make the base – and the UK – a target in the event of nuclear war, and it will also run the risk of an accident at the base prompting a nuclear incident.

CND condemns the UK government’s lack of transparency surrounding the siting of these weapons. The government has refused to answer questions about the deployment of US nuclear weapons to Britain, about new construction work at the base, or about any safety measures in the event of a nuclear accident.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “Kathleen Hicks’ visit to RAF Lakenheath is further proof that Washington intends to use Britain as a launch pad for its nuclear arsenal in Europe. The lack of transparency surrounding this deployment is shocking given how dangerous it is. Russia has already retaliated: it has stationed its own nuclear weapons in Belarus in response.

“A YouGov poll found that almost two thirds of the British public don’t want US nuclear weapons stationed here. That’s not surprising – they will make us a nuclear target. CND calls on the UK government to say that US nuclear weapons are not welcome in Britain.”

* Source: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament