Greece contributes to NATO fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear weapons, a report by the highly respected Federation Of American Scientists revealed on Tuesday.
The report by defense expert Hans Kristensen notes that earlier this year, NATO disclosed that seven NATO countries contribute dual-capable aircraft to the nuclear-sharing mission.
The countries were not identified but five are widely known: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and the United States. The sixth country is probably Turkey despite rumors that it was no longer part of the mission.
The seventh country was a mystery, says Kristensen but it turns out it is Greece. Although Greece no longer stores nuclear weapons (they were withdrawn in 2001) and doesn’t have a committed fighter unit, it has reserve units and a contingency mission, he claims.
NATO begins exercise to train aircrews in nuclear weapons
On Monday, NATO began a two-week-long exercise in Europe to train aircrews in using U.S. non-strategic nuclear bombs.
The exercise, known as Steadfast Noon, is centered at Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium, which is one of six airbases in Europe that stores U.S. nuclear bombs.
Steadfast Noon exercises are held once every year, but this year is unique because the exercise takes place during the largest conventional war in Europe since World War II with considerable tension and uncertainty resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to NATO, Steadfast Noon will involve fourteen countries (less than half of the thirty NATO allies) and up to sixty aircraft.
That involves fourth-generation F-16s and F-15Es as well as fifth-generation F-35A and F-22 fighter jets. A number of tankers and surveillance aircraft will also take part.
Although the exercise is practicing NATO’s non-strategic nuclear forces, a couple of U.S. strategic B-52 bombers will also be present.
Training flights will take place over Belgium and the United Kingdom as well as over the North Sea. There might also be flights over Germany and the Netherlands.
“This exercise helps ensure that the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective,” said NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
NATO’s new Strategic Concept, adopted by Allied leaders at the Madrid Summit in June makes clear that “the fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression.”
It stresses that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. NATO’s goal is a safer world for all; we seek to create the security environment for a world without nuclear weapons.“