US Cautious on Removing Nuclear Arms from Europe

From the AP:  Some officials in Germany and other U.S. allies in Europe are advocating a withdrawal, citing President Barack Obama’s call last year for a nuclear-free world. But the U.S. is putting off an early decision, preferring to consult within NATO, starting at a meeting of foreign ministers in April that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to attend, according to several Obama administration officials.

The officials discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because details are secret and the administration is in the midst of an internal review of the role and purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal…

One apparent impediment to an early withdrawal of the weapons is the view of newer members of NATO – those closer to Russia, such as the Baltic states. They see the U.S. weapons as an important symbol of a NATO guarantee of their territorial integrity.

Older NATO members see it differently.

Five of them – Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Norway – in February called for consultations on the question of a U.S. nuclear withdrawal, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this month that "a hot issue like our nuclear posture" will be on the agenda, beginning at the April foreign ministers meeting.

The consultations are likely to last for months, possibly into 2011.

Parliament members from several European NATO countries are circulating a letter to be sent to Obama stating that the elimination of short-range nuclear weapons in Europe is an urgent matter and should be addressed once the U.S. and Russia complete their START treaty.  (photo: Pete Souza/White House)

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