Stephen Walt calls for removing tactical nukes from Europe:
It’s hard to imagine that these weapons are helping Dutch, German, or Turkish elites sleep soundly at night, or helping reassure their respective populations. If anything, local populations should worry about having these devices on their soil, which is why governments tend not to talk about them. Democracy in action!
It’s worse than that. The host governments don’t want these weapons in their countries, and they been eagerly seeking their removal for some time. To the extent that they are saying anything about them publicly, it is to request that the U.S. get rid of them. These weapons are also worse than redundant. As Walt notes later on, according to reviews of security at the sites where these weapons are stored they are not as well-secured as they should be:
The 2008 final report of the Air Force Blue Ribbon Review of Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures concluded that host nation security at “most sites” in Europe where US nuclear weapons are deployed do not meet the Defense Department’s security requirements. An alarming illustration of these shortcomings occurred in early 2010, when a group of Belgian peace activists penetrated the Kleine Brogel Air Base, which is believed to house 10 to 20 B61 nuclear weapons.
The presence of tactical nukes at these facilities offers one of the better opportunities that terrorists have to acquire functioning nuclear weapons. David Hoffman discussed the dangers of the continued presence of tactical nuclear weapons in a post last fall:
Nunn suggests that at NATO’s planned summit in Chicago next May, the goal should be set of returning all the West’s tactical nuclear weapons to the United States within five years. Nunn makes a series of additional recommendations for intensifying talks with Russia about security issues such as missile defense and conventional weapons. But what I found most interesting was that Nunn has thrown his weight behind the idea that the tactical nuclear weapons are obsolete.
Nunn has long been worried about the threat of nuclear terrorism, enhanced by the relatively small size and portability of these weapons. He says that “to persist in maintaining U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe for another decade–in the absence of any real military or political utility–is more of a security risk than asset to NATO [bold mine-DL], given the nontrivial risk of a terrorist attack against a NATO base with nuclear weapons. The same is also true for Russia.”