Annual maneuver: NATO practices nuclear emergencies

Annual maneuver
NATO practices nuclear emergencies

Even before the maneuvers begin, NATO hastens to emphasize that “Steadfast Noon” is not a reaction to Russia’s aggressive war in Ukraine. Rather, it is a “routine, recurring training measure”. Addressee of the clarification: Putin.

NATO begins today its annual maneuvers to defend NATO’s European territory with nuclear weapons. According to the alliance, up to 60 aircraft will be involved in the “Steadfast Noon” exercise over the next two weeks – including modern fighter jets, but also surveillance and tanker aircraft and long-range B-52 bombers. The scene should be the airspace over Belgium, Great Britain and the North Sea. The Bundeswehr is also involved.

NATO emphasizes that “Steadfast Noon” is not a reaction to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and that no real weapons are being used. “The exercise, which runs until October 30, is a routine, recurring training measure that is not related to current world events,” the alliance said last Friday. NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said, “This exercise helps ensure the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains secure and efficient.”

NATO does not provide any information on the exercise scenario and details. According to military experts, during the maneuvers that take place regularly in October, among other things, they practice how to safely transport US nuclear weapons from underground magazines to the aircraft and mount them under the fighter jets. However, the practice flights are then flown without the bombs.

Putin’s annexations raise fears

According to unconfirmed information, US nuclear weapons are said to be stored in northern Italy, Belgium, Turkey, the Netherlands and Büchel in Rhineland-Palatinate. The so-called nuclear sharing of NATO envisages that in an emergency they will also be dropped by aircraft from partner countries and then, for example, turn off opposing armed forces. Germany has PA-200 Tornado fighter jets ready for this.

Unlike previous “Steadfast Noon” exercises, this year NATO is proactively providing information about the start. In alliance circles, this is justified by the fact that this time it should be shown more than usual that NATO itself is well prepared for a horror scenario such as a nuclear war.

The illegal annexation of four occupied Ukrainian territories recently fueled new concerns about a Russian use of nuclear weapons. Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin, among others, then announced that they would defend them with all available means.

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