November 06, 2013 By Markus Becker and Otfried Nassauer – Spiegel.de
The US wants to modernize nuclear bombs stationed in Europe in a way many experts call the equivalent of creating a new weapon. Critics believe the move violates pledges by President Obama he would not develop new nukes.
The idea of fighter jets taking off from Western Europe, thundering their way eastwards and dropping nuclear bombs on Soviet troops is a scenario taken straight out of the Cold War playbook. But American nuclear aircraft bombs are still stationed in Europe. In Germany alone, up to 20 B-61 weapons are stored on a German airbase in the village of Büchel in Rhineland-Westphalia.
The German government has said on numerous occasions it would like to see those weapons removed, but there is no chance of that happening anytime soon. Instead, the weapons are expected to be upgraded for increased performance.
Last week, representatives of the US military, the Pentagon and the Department of Energy announced new details about the B-61 program in a hearing in the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. The new variant of the nuclear bomb, called the B61-12, is now expected to replace the older types 3, 4, 7 and 10 as well as the bunker-busting B-61-11 and B-83 strategic nuclear bombs. The latter has an explosive power of up to 1.2 megatons of TNT, making it more than 90 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.