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. US has more nuclear weapons in Europe than thought: report
WASHINGTON (AFP) Feb 09, 2005
The United States is keeping some 480 nuclear weapons in air bases in Europe -- twice as many as analysts had previously estimated -- to deter attacks from terrorists or rogue nations, The New York Times said Wednesday, quoting a new study by a private group.

The short-range nuclear bombs are stored under US control, under tight security and regulated by secret military agreements at eight bases in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey, said the daily which obtained the report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

An unnamed senior US military official in Europe told the daily that the number of nuclear weapons in Europe had been "significantly reduced" in recent years and currently stood at "around 200."

However, Hans Kristensen, a nuclear arms specialist and the author of the council's 102-page report titled "US Nuclear Weapons in Europe," said recent declassified documents, commercial satellite imagery and other documents he analyzed pointed to the higher number.

Other US officials said there were no plans to reduce the US nuclear arsenal in Europe and that the issue had caused strain among North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) political and military leaders.

"Some allies and US military see a lot of value in going to zero," the senior military official in Europe said. "That said, some allies and US military see value in at least keeping some capability."

The newspaper's account of the council's report and findings conincide with a NATO meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Nice, France.

US Secretaries of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and of State, Condoleezza Rice are attending the meeting which France is hosting for the first time.

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