‘UK insurance policy: US nukes left over from Cold War’

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (Reuters/Toby Melville)
Although the Cold War ended long ago, there are still US nuclear bases in Europe, yet there has been a huge reduction of nuclear weapons since 1991, Jonathan Steel, international affairs columnist for the Guardian, told RT.

At the G7 Summit in Germany White House Press SecretaryJosh Earnest saidthat“there are some - particularly President Putin - who try to sort of restart or reignite a Cold War mentality.”The UK's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond cited a potential danger from Russia, saying that Britain is considering hosting US nuclear arms on its territory for the first time since the end of the Cold War. US nuclear missiles were previously stationed in the UK in the 1980’s despite a lot of public opposition. Even though the Soviet Union collapsed decades ago, US nuclear missiles were never completely removed from Europe.

RT:The UK is considering hosting US nuclear weapons citing growing dangers from Russia. Is history repeating itself?

READ MORE: UK could host US nukes to counter increased 'Russian activity' - Hammond

Jonathan Steel: There was a huge amount of protest when the US cruise missiles were going to be deployed here at [RAF] Greenham Common in the 1980’s. In fact they were deployed, but then they were taken away. So we have no US nuclear weapons in Britain, except for our Trident submarines because most of the weaponry on that - the so-called independent nuclear deterrent of Britain - is American.

RT:Is Britain going to buy that at this time?

JS: I think it is pretty speculative. Hammond in a way was ambushed by that question on TV [on Sunday] which he gave the answer that it would have to be looked at. He is saying it is still a hypothetical case; it’s something that he is not seeing as a detailed argument in favor of or against, and he would have to look at it carefully. So I think it’s a little bit premature, but maybe there is an element of waving a flag and just hinting that this could happen in the future.

RT:What about the accusations from the US that Russia has been reviving Cold War rhetoric?

JS: This is a case of the kettle calling the pot black; both sides are doing it. One has to look at what Philip Hammond said quite carefully. He did also say that Russia has the sense of being surrounded and under attack, and unnecessary provocations wouldn’t be desirable. In some moments Western foreign policy spokespeople are quite sensible and conscious, and then at the same time they lapse back into talk of Cold War, and so on...

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

RT:You could say if it did go ahead citing US weapons on British soil is hardly peace politics, is it?

JS: No, but as I say it was a question that surprised him, I don’t think he was prepared for it, so he came out with a kind of lawyer’s answer, saying: “Well, I haven’t seen a case for it, it would have to be examined very carefully.”

RT:Despite the Cold War supposedly being long gone, there are still numerous bases storing US nuclear weapons in Europe. Why?

JS: There is a so-called insurance policy leftover from the real Cold War. There has been a huge reduction in nuclear weapons since 1991. This famous treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Weapons couldn’t get rid of all of them at the time, signed in 1987 when [Mikhail] Gorbachev was in power. I don’t think we should be too excited about this at the moment.

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