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Pentagon slams 'nuclear weapons accident' at Dutch air base as 'absolutely untrue'


The Pentagon has denied one of its nuclear weapons was involved in an accident. It comes after an image of what appeared to be US Air Force personnel inspecting a dented weapon was shared online. The photo was found in a Los Alamos National Laboratory student briefing from last year.

It showed four people studying what appeared to be a damaged nuclear bomb.

The document did not identify where the photo was taken or when, but it appeared to be from inside a Protective Aircraft Shelter at Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

It appears to show a damaged B61 nuclear bomb strapped to a trolley.

The bomb’s back end curves to the left while one of four tail fins is missing. Pink tape also covers the rear of the tail.

Pentagon spokesman Oscar P. Seára said: “We are aware of a news story that a photo has been found of US military personnel inspecting a damaged B61 nuclear bomb following an accident at a NATO base. This is absolutely untrue.”

He added the photo comes from a recruitment folder from 2022 and shows students doing routine training with an unarmed training weapon as part of preparation to work in a special team.

Analyst Hans Kristensen had shared the image in his blog which was published earlier on Monday by the FAS.

He said: “It is not a secret that the US Air Force deploys nuclear weapons in Europe, but it is a secret where they are deployed. Volkel Air Base has stored B61s for decades.

“I and others have provided ample documentation for this and two former Dutch prime ministers and a defense minister in 2013 even acknowledged the presence of the weapons.

“Volkel Air Base is one of six air bases in Europe where the US Air Force currently deploys an estimated 100 B61 nuclear bombs in total.”

He added that the United States is modernizing its air-delivered nuclear arsenal, including in Europe, and Volkel along with the other air bases in Europe are set to receive new B61-12 nuclear bombs in “the near future”.

The image shared by the FAS does not include details of where it was taken, although Mr Kristensen matched details from the photo to other photos from inside a shelter at Volkel.

One of the images is from April 2022 when Dutch princess Catharina-Amalia visited Volkel Air Base and was taken on a flight in an F-16.

The 312th Squadron forms part of the Dutch Air Force’s 1st Wing and is equipped with F-16 fighter-bombers with US-supplied hardware and software which make them capable of delivering B61 nuclear bombs, according to Mr Kristensen.

He said the US Air Force stores these in vaults built underneath 11 of the base’s shelters.

In April last year, FAS reported that US Defense Department documents showed NATO had “quietly” added the UK to its list of nuclear weapons storage locations being upgraded.

The documents did not identify the specific facility, but it was believed to be the US Air Base at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Globally, nine countries possessed roughly 12,500 warheads as of early-2023, according to the FAS.

The US and Russia combined now possess about 89 percent of the world’s total inventory of nuclear weapons as well as 86 percent of the stockpiled warheads available for use military use.

The United States is still slowly reducing its nuclear stockpile while France and Israel have “relatively stable” inventories, the FAS reports.

China, India, North Korea, Pakistan and the UK, as well as possibly Russia, are all thought to be increasing their stockpiles.



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