CND is renewing calls for the UK to refuse to allow the US to site its nuclear weapons in Britain. Fresh budget documents reveal that plans to store the new B61-12 at Lakenheath airbase are gathering pace.

The Federation of American Scientists said that US Air Force budget documents dated March 2023 “strongly imply” that Washington is in the process of re-establishing its nuclear weapons presence in Britain for the first time in fifteen years. It follows reports last year that Lakenheath airbase in Suffolk was added to a list of US-operated airbases in Europe to undergo multi-million dollar upgrades allowing for the storage of the new B61-12 guided nuclear bomb.

The latest documents, published as part of the USAF 2024 budgetary justification package, express the need for a “surety dormitory”. As FAS notes, “surety” is a term used by US government departments to “refer to the capability to keep nuclear weapons safe, secure, and under positive control.”

The 144-bunk dormitory, the documents say, is needed, as with “the influx of airmen due to the arrival of the potential Surety mission and the bed down of the two F-35 squadrons there is a significant deficiency in the amount of unaccompanied housing available for E4s and below at Royal Air Force Lakenheath” [emphasis added]. Construction is expected to last from June 2024 to February 2026.

Since learning of Lakenheath’s addition to the list of sites to be upgraded last year, CND has held three national demonstrations at the base to highlight local and national opposition to the move. On Saturday 23 September, local groups will hold events across the country to highlight the danger US nuclear weapons will bring to Britain as a whole, if they are allowed back by the UK government.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“It’s increasingly clear that Lakenheath is once again a vital cog in Washington’s overseas nuclear machine – despite refusals from the British government to acknowledge this reality. The deployment of the new B61-12 to Europe undermines any prospects for global peace and ensures Britain will be a target in a nuclear conflict between the US/NATO and Russia. It’s beyond irresponsible that the UK government is allowing this deployment. CND calls on Rishi Sunak to refuse to host the B61-12.”

Image Credit: Senior Airman Koby I. Saunders / USAF