In light of recent media reports that US nuclear weapons are returning to Britain, CND has renewed its warning that such a deployment will only raise the nuclear threat further and make Britain a guaranteed target in the event of any war between NATO and Russia.
Since April 2022, CND has strongly suspected that RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk is being prepared for such a nuclear mission. It would mark the first time since 2008 that US nuclear weapons have been at the base – removed thanks to popular protest and the efforts of CND.
Documents accumulated since 2022 have provided evidence that nuclear weapons will return. These include: the upgrade of nuclear storage sites at RAF Lakenheath to store the new B61-12 guided nuclear bomb; plans to build a new ‘surety dormitory’* to house US Air Force personnel for a nuclear mission; and most recently, contracts to install ballistic protection sites at the base, designed to protect troops from strikes on “high value assets”.
The Lakenheath upgrades form part of a wider effort to upgrade US/NATO nuclear infrastructure across Europe, which has preceded – and likely provoked – Russia’s deployment of its own nuclear weapons to Belarus. Despite this, neither the US or UK government have given information to the public about this deployment.
CND, represented by law firm Leigh Day, has already raised queries with the Ministry of Defence and West Suffolk Council about the lawfulness of the planning rights used to allow the building of the surety dormitory. The MoD could have used a specific planning procedure for national security applications, which includes special safeguards, but instead they have tried to use a fast-track procedure, which suggests there has been minimal scrutiny by West Suffolk Council as planning authority or the public. CND and its lawyers are investigating the lawfulness of that approach in correspondence with the council.
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:
“CND welcomes the growing attention on this dangerous and destabilising development. We encourage both the media and the public to increase pressure on the British government to be honest about this deployment. It’s shameful that our government continues to take us for fools on this serious matter. They are refusing to give us crucial information about our security. This development has been in the works for some time, prior to Russia sending its own nuclear weapons to Belarus. So, far from making us safer, this deployment has escalated the dangers, brought Russian nukes to Europe, and made us a nuclear target.”
Leigh Day environment team solicitor Ricardo Gama said:
“The MoD says that the Lakenheath development won’t lead to significant environmental effects, but in coming to that conclusion our client argues they have ignored the potential environmental effects of stationing nuclear weapons at the airbase, including the potential for nuclear accidents.
“In order to allow the local planning authority, West Suffolk Council, and members of the community to come to a conclusion about whether the MoD is going through the right process and about whether the potential effects of the development are acceptable, the MoD needs to provide transparent information about what the purpose of the development is.”