NATO Conducts Nuclear Military Exercise in Semi-Secrecy
Oct. 18, 2017 (EIRNS)—NATO has begun its annual nuclear exercise, "Steadfast Noon," if not in secret, certainly with a very low profile, since it was not loudly announced as NATO exercises usually are. The exercise began yesterday at the Kleine Brogel air base in Belgium and the Buchel air base in Germany, two of about a half-dozen air bases in Europe where the U.S. stores 150-200 B-61 nuclear bombs. During the exercise, crews with Belgian F-16s and German Tornados, and likely also from the U.S. and Italy, will practice conducting nuclear missions. Polish F-16s and Czech Air Force Gripens are also thought to be participating in support roles.
The low profile of the exercise, explains the Wall Street Journal, is that NATO’s nuclear drills are sensitive, due to the domestic politics of a number of participating countries. A NATO official told the Journal that nuclear exercises remain a "delicate balancing act among allies," with some countries uncomfortable with public discussions and others wanting acknowledgment of the deterrent’s importance. The official said continuing these annual preparations are vital, especially as geopolitical concerns increase.
Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, in a blog posting yesterday, notes NATO’s hypocrisy in refusing to openly acknowledge Steadfast Noon.
"The secrecy of the exercise is interesting because NATO only a few weeks ago complained that Russia was not being transparent about its Zapad exercise," Kristensen writes. "Seems like both sides could do better."