The United States will not station new nuclear weapons in Germany, according to a statement by a U.S. government official reported by the Russian news site Tass. Rumors had surfaced of a plan by the U.S. to introduce additional atomic bombs into Germany in an effort to further deter Russian hostility against Europe.
"The B61-12 won't reach full production until FY20,” said Shelley Laver, deputy director of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration public affairs department, who spoke with Tass Wednesday. "The articles implying deployment to Europe by the end of the calendar year would be inaccurate."
In response to the reports that surfaced Tuesday, Moscow threatened to respond to the U.S. plans by sending its own nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles into Kaliningrad, a Russian-held enclave on the Baltic coast. The missiles would be capable of reaching almost any part of Europe.
The reports were based on an analysis of 2015 U.S. budget documents that said Air Force Tornado jet fighter bombers would be equipped with a new nuclear weapons system in the third quarter of this year.
The U.S. already has nuclear weapons inside Europe as part of a NATO-sharing program. While the countries involved -- Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey -- are technically non-nuclear states, they store, maintain and provide the means to deliver the weapons on behalf of the U.S. military.
Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said the German media was mistaken and actually meant that the nuclear project was in the second phase of a much longer project.
"All of these things have been in the books for years,” said Kristensen in the Tass report. “The [U.S.] Air Force has reported about the timelines for when these upgrades of the aircraft were going to be made and NNSA and many other agencies, of course, reported about the plans for the bomb itself.”