A Russian official said today that accelerated deployment of upgraded B61 nuclear weapons at NATO bases in Europe would “lower the nuclear threshold” and Moscow would take that into account in its military planning, Reuters reported.
Earlier in the week, Politico reported that
The US has accelerated the deployment of upgraded B61-12 tactical nuclear weapons to NATO bases in Europe, and it will take place in December – several months ahead of schedule. The media cited information from a closed meeting of the Alliance.
“We cannot ignore the plans to modernize the free-fall bombs that are on the territory of Europe,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The B61-12s are free-fall bombs that carry smaller nuclear warheads than previous models but are significantly more accurate and can penetrate underground, according to research by the Federation of American Scientists.
“The US is modernizing them, increasing their accuracy and reducing the nuclear charge, which turns them into “battlefield weapons” and lowers the nuclear threshold,” Grushko also commented.
Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, while the US has about 200, half of which are based in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands.