its nuclear arsenal in America prompts
threat of retaliation Germany
By Roland Oliphant in
Huggler in Moscow and Raf
Sanchez in Berlin Washington
The new escalation in the war of words follows Putin’s latest intervention in the
war in Syria Photo: Reuters
The Kremlin said plans reported by German media for the
to upgrade its nuclear weapons
arsenal in the country would be “a serious step towards raising tension” in US Europe.
“Unfortunately, in the case of these plans - and we can say with certainty that they are moving towards realisation - this can lead to a violation of the strategic balance in
Europe,” said Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir
“Therefore, of course, that would require
to take counter-steps and
countermeasures to restore balance and parity,” he added. Russia
The new escalation in the war of words between Moscow and Washington follows President Vladimir Putin’s latest intervention in the war in Syria, which the US describes as “unhelpful”.
The deployment of US nuclear weapons in
Europe is subject to secrecy, but details appear to have
been leaked in recent weeks.
is planning to replace 20
nuclear weapons deployed at Büchel airbase in western US with a more modern variant,
according to details first reported by ZDF television. Germany
According to the reports, the current B61 bombs are to be replaced with B61-12s, a newer version of the weapon which is more accurate and less destructive. The new variants can also be fired as missiles, while the older version had to be dropped from aircraft.
That has led to fears governments may be less cautious about using it.
The Kremlin did not say what form the threatened countermeasures might take, but one source said a possible option would be the deployment of nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to
’s exclave on the Kaliningrad, Russia Baltic Sea which borders and Poland . Lithuania
“The question is being considered. A final decision will be taken after detailed analysis of the potential threat from German Tornado fighter-bombers carrying new B-61-12 atomic bombs,” a military source told Interfax, a Russian news agency.
Russian concerns appear to centre on the fact the newer version of the bomb is considered more appropriate for tactical use. The country's foreign ministry said that it wants a ban on deployment of non-strategic nuclear weapons outside the national territory of the country that owns them.
“With the new bombs the boundaries blur between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons,” Hans Kirstensen of the Nuclear Information Project in
told ZDF. Washington
A Pentagon spokesman said it would not comment on the specifics of which weapons were located where, and that there was no change to the
nuclear “posture”. US
has reduced its non-strategic
nuclear weapons by approximately 90% since the end of the Cold War,” the
spokesman, Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, said. “Remaining Russian weapons greatly exceed
those retained by the United States . United States
“We still seek to negotiate an agreement with
to address the disparity
between the non-strategic nuclear weapons stockpiles of the Russia and the Russian Federation in an effort to secure and
reduce the number of such weapons in a verifiable manner. Unfortunately, we
currently do not have a willing partner for such a negotiation.” United States