Abolition 2000 is a worldwide network working for a global treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Weapons in Europe

Posted by Abolition, 16th Nov 2005 | Category: Nuclear Weapon News
Europe is currently one of the most heavily nuclearised continents on the planet. Four nuclear weapon states base nuclear weapons in Europe (US, UK, France, Russia). There are also a number of non nuclear weapon states that host US nuclear weapons under NATO nuclear sharing agreements.
You can find an overview of nuclear weapon in Europe on our clickable map and more details on each of the nuclear weapon states below.
There are currently 6 "Nuclear Weapon Free Zones" in the world, 5 of which cover continents in the Southern Hemisphere. We must work to ensure that such a Nuclear Weapon free zone becomes a reality in Europe as well.

US nuclear weapons in Europe

The United States is currently the only country to station nuclear weapons outside of its own territory. It has up to 480 air launched nuclear weapons stationed at 8 airbases in 6 NATO countries. In some cases, these bases are controlled by the US military, and US pilots train to use these bombs. In other cases, it is pilots of the host nation that train to use the weapons, in breach of Articles I and II of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. All of the bombs are of type B61, and have a yield that can be varied between 0.3 – 170 kilotons.
The following airbases are used to store nuclear weapons:
Lakenheath (UK), 110 bombs
Kleine Brogel (Belgium), 20 bombs
Volkel (Netherlands), 20 bombs
Büchel (Germany), 20 bombs
Ramstein (Germany), 130 bombs
Aviano (Italy), 50 bombs
Ghedi Torre (Italy), 40 bombs
Incirlik (Turkey), 90 bombs

For more info:
Hans M. Kristensen, “US Nuclear Weapons in Europe - A review of post-cold war policy, force levels, and war planning”, NRDC, February 2005
Nuclear weapons in Europe: an overview, Greenpeace (.pdf)
Nuclear NATO, Greenpeace (.pdf)
Secret U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, Citizens’ Weapons Inspection Report (.pdf)

British nuclear weapons

Britain currently only has one nuclear weapon system- the "Trident" nuclear weapon system based on board 4 Vanguard class nuclear powered submarines. Each submarine can carry up to 48 independently targetable nuclear warheads. Each nuclear warhead has a yield of up to 100 kilotons, or approximately 8 Hiroshimas.
Faslane naval base in Scotland is the base for the submarines, and the warheads themselves are stored under ground at the nearby Coulport armaments depot.
Burghfield and Aldermaston in the south of England are nuclear weapon research and production sites. Sellafield is a plutonium production site and Chapelcross is the tritium production facility.

For more information:
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Nuclear Notebook November/December 2005
Trident Ploughshares handbook 
Citizens' Weapons Inspections report into UK nuclear weapons system

French nuclear weapons

France currently has a stockpile of 348 nuclear weapons, based on board four ballistic missile submarines, as well as air to surface missiles on bomber aircrafts. France is the only nuclear weapons state (NWS) to have totally eliminated its surface-to-surface nuclear weapons systems. However, France is the only country left still deploying nuclear weapons on an aircraft carrier (being ‘Charles de Gaulle’, based out of Toulon).
The following sites are currently involved in nuclear weapon production and storage:
• Ile Longue: operational naval base serving ballistic missile submarines in Brest.
• Landivisiau: the base for the French Navy's squadron of nuclear capable Super-Etendard planes, which carry ASMP missiles.
• Tours: nuclear weapons component production and maintenance conducted at Centre d’ Etude de Ripault.
• Toulon: naval base and homeport of the aircraft carrier Charles-De-Gaulle, as well as nuclear weapons storage site.
• Istres: French airforce base, home to Mirage 2000N planes, carrying ASMP missiles, and nuclear weapons storage site.
• Is-sur-Tille: nuclear weapons assembly and dismantlement, plus component production performed at Centre d’Etude de Valduc.
• Villeneuve-St-Georges: nuclear weapon design, development and research conducted at Centre d’ Etude de Limeil-Valenton.
• Luxeuil: French Air Force Base, home to Mirage 2000N planes carrying ASMP missiles, and nuclear weapons storage site.
• Arpajon: nuclear weapon research conducted at Centre d’ Etude de Bruyeres-le-Chatel.
• Vaujours and Le Barp: nuclear weapon research conducted at Centre d’ Etude deVaujours-Moronviliers and CESTA.

For more information:
Nuclear weapons in Europe: an overview, Greenpeace (.pdf)
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Nuclear Notebook July/August 2005

Russian nuclear weapons

Russia has a number of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons based on the European part of its territory. The storage sites include submarine bases, airbases and missile sites.

For more information:
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Nuclear Notebook March/April 2005
Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998, NRDC