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Carl Bildt: - Withdraw tactical nukes from Kola

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at Titovka on the Kola Peninsula in October 2009.

Sweden and Poland’s Foreign Ministers urge Russia to withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons from both Kaliningrad and the Kola Peninsula.

- We understand that Russia is a European power, but urge Moscow to make a commitment to the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from areas adjacent to European Union member states. We are thinking of areas like the Kaliningrad region and the Kola Peninsula, where there are still substantial numbers of these weapons, writes Sweden’s Carl Bildt and Poland’s Radek Sikorski in an up-ed in the New York Times.  

They suggest such a withdrawal could be accompanied by the destruction of relevant storage facilities.

On the Kola Peninsula, storage facilities for naval tactical nuclear weapons exist. The actual numbers of such nuclear warheads are held secret and not accounted for in international treaties. The START treaty and the soon-to-come follow-up treaty only count strategic nuclear weapons.

Read also: Also for our Barents safety

In October last year, BarentsObserver was driving together with Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on the road that is passing near many of the Russian Northern fleet’s naval bases, not far from the site where tactical nuclear weapons are stored on the Kola Peninsula. The bus ride started in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes and continued to Murmansk, where Carl Bildt met his colleagues in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.

The existence of tactical nuclear warheads on the Kola Peninsula that are not accounted for in international treaties were one of the issues in talk between BarentsObserver and the Swedish Foreign Minister.

See slide-show: Images of Carl Bildt and BarentsObserver’s tour-de-Kola from October 2009.

Carl Bildt refers in his up-ed in the New York Times to a recent report by the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament that indicates that Russia holds around 2000 tactical warheads, the vast majority in the western part of the country.

Read also: Submarines can be armed with tactical nuclear weapons

During the Cold War, the Northern fleet’s submarines based on the Kola Peninsula were sailing with both nuke-armed torpedoes and nuke-armed cruise missiles.

- Such weapons are dangerous remnants of a dangerous past – and they should not be allowed to endanger our common future, writes Bildt and Sikorski.