NATO’s annual nuclear weapons drills started in southern Europe this week, with the military bloc using it as an opportunity to push out pro-nuclear weapons propaganda on its social media. CND warns that the exercises and accompanying propaganda increase nuclear risk at a time of high tensions between a number of nuclear weapons states.

Steadfast Noon 2023 runs for two weeks until 26 October and this year’s exercises are taking place over Italy, Croatia, and the Mediterranean Sea. The drills involve 13 member countries and up to 60 mixed type of aircraft including combat jets, surveillance and refuelling aircraft, as well as US B-52 bombers which have come to Europe for the exercises. While many of the aircraft are capable of carrying and using nuclear weapons, the drills aren’t carried out with live munitions.

In its statement last week, NATO stressed that the drills were not related to current world events and the bulk of the training is carried out at least 1,000 kilometres from Russia’s borders. It also stressed its commitment to nuclear weapons adding “as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.”

On Wednesday, NATO posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, a link to an article about its nuclear weapons policy. The tweet was accompanied by a series of stylish graphics arguing that NATO’s nuclear arsenal was necessary to “deter aggression”, “prevent coercion,” and “preserve peace.”

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“It is disingenuous for NATO to maintain that its nuclear weapons drills are not related to current world events. Steadfast Noon clearly states that NATO is willing and able to use nuclear weapons offensively – doing so at a time of growing nuclear risk and global insecurity has a significant destabilising effect. Using a term like ‘deterrent’ only serves to obscure the likelihood of nuclear use, while framing nuclear weapons as weapons that ‘preserve peace’ will only encourage nuclear proliferation. Every step that the rapidly globalising NATO takes seems to make our world more dangerous and at greater risk of nuclear war. We call on all peace-loving peoples across the world to stand up to increasing global militarisation and nuclearisation. It’s time to call a halt.”

Image Credit: NATO