American nukes in Europe serve NATO political point
The nuclear weapons, which are stationed in non-nuclear NATO member states, have remained in the region because they are in line with NATO’s mission to preempt any potential nuclear war.
The American warheads are remnants of the Cold War, and many European states, including Germany and Belgium, want them removed.
The placement of American nuclear weapons in Europe was designed to deter the Cold War Soviet threat. Later, the idea was to maintain the nuclear shield to prevent European states from creating their own nuclear programs under US protection.
“These weapons are designed to ward off a Cold War threat and very much are not designed to tackle the current challenges to Euro-Atlantic security; cyber-terrorism, catastrophic climate change and all the other new and much more diffuse threats that face European security today,” said security analyst Dex Torricke-Barton.
These weapons remain in Europe in part because some still think there is a need to defend from a Russian threat. However the more accurate logic is political.
“These weapons are placed there to provide evidence of the strength of the Transatlantic alliance. But, it’s a very very expensive and dangerous political point to make,” said Torricke-Barton.
The maintenance of the weapons comes at a high cost. Although the political climate in the United States favors a reduction in government spending and cutting the deficit this is not a program the US seems ready to cut.
“There is enormous good will on Capitol Hill at the moment among the Democratic Party to pursue the main plank of Obama’s foreign policy; that is achieving a nuclear free world. But, when it comes to looking after your own home state’s defense industries, absolutely, there is going to be much greater good will for that,” said Torricke-Barton.