The UK government’s refusal to answers questions on the return of US nuclear weapons to British soil has been branded a “disgrace” by CND.
It follows reports that the UK was quietly added to a US Department of Defense list of NATO nuclear weapons storage locations slated for a multi-million pound upgrade programme. This prompted suspicion by CND that US nuclear warheads have arrived, or are due to arrive, at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk – for the first time since 2008.
Members of Parliamentary CND submitted written questions to the Minister of Defence to seek clarity on the issue. But this was sidestepped by the government.
Green MP Caroline Lucas asked the Secretary of State for Defence “whether the underground storage vaults at RAF Lakenheath are being upgraded (a) generally and (b) specifically to allow the storage of B61-12 nuclear bombs; and if he will make a statement.”
Defence Minister James Heappey said the MoD was “unable to comment on US spending decisions and capabilities, which are a matter for the US Government. It remains longstanding UK and NATO policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location.”
Another question, submitted by SNP MP and Chair of Parliamentary CND, Kirsten Oswald, asked what data the MoD “holds on whether the special weapons referred to in the US’s 2023 Defense Budget request for infrastructure investment at a storage site in the UK will be B61-12 nuclear bombs.”
Again, Heappey said the MoD was “unable to comment on US spending decisions and capabilities, which are a matter for the US Government.”
A disgraceful sidestepping
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “Despite Parliamentary CND’s best efforts to hold the UK government to account, the MoD consistently sidesteps on the issue of nuclear weapons in the most disgraceful way. The people of this country deserve to know whether a foreign nation’s nuclear stockpile is being warehoused on their doorstep. Nuclear weapons don’t make the people of this country any safer but they do make them a target. The fact the government tries to avoid scrutiny by using an ‘I can neither confirm not deny’ argument is deeply shameful. The US nuclear presence at Lakenheath ended in 2008 after a sustained campaign by CND and the Lakenheath Action Group. We are again opposing US nukes in Britain in a national demonstration at RAF Lakenheath on 21st May.”