NATO country ‘most interested’ in nuclear weapons
Poland absolutely wants to host both a permanent NATO troop presence and US nuclear weapons on its territory, a top aide to President Andrzej Duda said on Friday. There were “conceptual” talks with Washington about the atomic weapons, Jakub Kumoch told the news channel Polsat, and argued the 1997 NATO-Russia treaty should not be treated as an obstacle to achieving this.
Duda made headlines earlier this month by saying Poland had discussed joining the “nuclear sharing” program, under which the US has deployed nuclear bombs in several non-nuclear NATO countries. The State Department quickly reacted by saying Washington had “no plans” to deploy atomic weapons to any NATO member that joined after 1997, with Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel insisting he was not aware of any discussions with Poland about the issue.
“The president did not say that Poland is conducting talks, but that there were such talks and it is true – there were such talks,” Kumoch told Polsat on Friday. “They were in the so-called conceptual phase,” he added, with Warsaw notifying the Americans that Poland was interested in participating in the nuclear sharing program.
Kumoch, who heads the Foreign Policy Bureau in the presidential administration, called it a “pity” that Patel brought up 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed. The treaty specifically barred permanent troop deployments in Eastern Europe, something Russia again insisted upon last year, in the security proposal the US and NATO eventually rejected.
“We believe, and the President said at the NATO summit, that this act is dead, Russia simply annulled it by aggression against Ukraine,” said Kumoch.
A majority of Poles support Duda’s interest in American atomic bombs, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by the pollster IBRiS. Overall, 54.1% favor participation in nuclear sharing, with only 29.5% of respondents opposed. Support was particularly strong among the youth (93%), readers of state media (72%), and voters of the ruling PiS party (68%).
Meanwhile, Warsaw’s interest in US nuclear weapons was met with concern in both Russia and Belarus. Poland has been the main conduit for NATO weapons and ammunition deliveries to Ukraine, and Russia claims a number of Polish fighters have taken part in the conflict on the side of Kiev.