On September 21, German national TV channel ZDF reported that the US will station 20 next-generation advanced nuclear bombs of Type B 61-12 at the German Bundeswehr airstrip and special weapons storage depot at Büchel in Rhineland-Pfalz, a radioactive stone’s throw from where this author resides. This US deployment is no minor affair as it brings the likelihood of nuclear war by miscalculation between the United States and Russia one giant step closer and it makes the German Republic a direct high-priority target in any such escalation. Ashton “Ash” Carter and the war-hawks running the US Defense Department appear to be losing all contact with reality.
The newest US nuclear bomb model, B 61-12, though advertised by the Pentagon as a mere modernized life-extended version of the standard strategic US nuclear bomb in operation since 1966, is, according to Hans M. Kristensen
Director, Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a “new nuclear bomb type that is not currently in the nuclear stockpile, with vastly improved military capabilities. It is the most expensive nuclear bomb project ever; many costs are still unknown.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry immediately expressed concern about the upgraded US nuclear deployment plans in Germany, saying this would also violate the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, ratified by more than 190 states. Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, told the media that the US nuclear move would “lead to destroying the present strategic balance in Europe” and force Russia to take actions, yet unspecified, to restore that strategic balance in order to guarantee Russian national security.
On July 1, 2015, the Pentagon tested the B 61-12 on its Nevada testing grounds. The test drew a sharp criticism at that time from Russia’s Defense Ministry. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov suggested the new nuclear weapon was intended for the European nuclear arsenal of the United States: “The atomic bomb, which was tested, is a dual purpose device. It can be both an element of strategic offensive weapons – when delivered by heavy bombers – and an element of non-strategic nuclear weapons when delivered by tactical aircraft,” Antonov said.
The Russian defense deputy minister added, “The special feature of the conducted test was the fact that the F-15E fighter-bomber was used as a carrier for a nuclear weapon. This gives grounds to believe that the test was conducted in order to examine the possibility of using the B 61-12 atomic bomb by NATO fighter-bombers stationed in Europe.”
Pentagon Russia war plans
A report citing senior US Defense Department sources appeared in the September 18 in Foreign Policy magazine. The report revealed that the Department of Defense is “reviewing and updating its contingency plans for armed conflict with Russia.” The review and updating reportedly includes US possible use of so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons against Russia. In his July Senate confirmation hearings, the incoming US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General “Fightin’ Joe” Dunford, declared that Russia posed an “existential threat” to the US. Three years ago it was China. They don’t seem able to make up their mind.
Adding to the growing military tensions between NATO and Russia, German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets started patrolling the airspace of the three Baltic States with full ammunition loads on September 20. German Air Force’s Inspector General Karl Müllner stated that the decision to fly fully armed was designed to “motivate” German pilots. He didn’t elaborate on which Air Force might become the enemy, nor what his pilots were being motivated for. The new B 61-12 nuclear bomb could also be fitted to German Tornado fighter jets. Perhaps that would really motivate the German pilots.
This past June, US Defense Secretary Carter flew to Stuttgart where he met with two dozen US military leaders and ambassadors based in Europe at the headquarters of US European Command. At the time Carter stated, “We have something that has taken a sad turn recently, which is Russia.” Hmmmmm.
World War III? Excuse me?
In what is clearly the most bizarre of all in this context of escalating drama, at the time that Russia is openly asking Washington to join its anti-terrorist coalition in Syria against ISIS and other Jihadist groups, is a little-noted remark by the Pope. In his speech on September 19 at Havana’s Jose Marti Airport, Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope in history, made a bizarre addition to his prepared text. Praising recent US steps to reconcile with Cuba after more than five decades of US sanctions, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, whose papal name according to the official website of the Society of Jesus, was not taken for Francis of Assisi but rather for the co-founder of the Jesuits, Francis Xavier, remarked that the US and Cuba could be an example to the world, “a world that needs reconciliation amidst this Third World War.” Excuse me, your Holiness? It’s a matter of record that the Jesuits were founded as a military order and were called “Soldiers of God,” but what is this about? Do you know something we don’t?
According to my colleague Pepe Escobar of Russia’s Sputnik International and Asia Times, “Third World War” was never part of the original redaction of the Pope’s speech. Francis personally added it on his flight from Rome to Havana.
Was that meant to signal that, led by the militant banner of history’s first Jesuit Pope, the Vatican is bringing us into a World War III against Russia and her allies, most certainly also China? Very few statesmen or political leaders that I know of are calling this World War III today. Is the comment intended to signal that the thousand-year quest of the Roman church to eradicate Orthodox Christianity, for which Russia today is the bastion, along with Greece, Serbia and eastern Ukraine and elsewhere, is seen as the ultimate prize? Let’s devoutly hope not, and hope that the inserted phrase owed to fatigue or jet lag on the long flight from Rome to Havana.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.