A photo of the front of a march. The banner at the front reads "No US nukes in Britain"

‘We will provide the weapons you need, this year, next year, and for as long as it takes.’ This was foreign secretary David Cameron’s promise to Volodymyr Zelensky in November. Since then Rishi Sunak has made a flying visit to Ukraine to pledge £2.5 billion for their military spending this year.

Assuming it doesn’t escalate out of control, the war in Ukraine could drag on for years. This makes no sense for Ukraine, for Britain or for the planet.

It is surely time to press for serious negotiations to begin to find a settlement, so that the killing and destruction can end.

Zelensky recently put forward his 10 point Peace Plan at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But it is completely unrealistic as it requires total and humiliating capitulation by Russia. That is just not going to happen.

Members of the Green Party’s Peace, Security and Defence Working Group have come up with an idea which we think could spark some discussion and lead us away from the stalemate.

Currently the United States deploys over 100 B61 nuclear gravity bombs in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey. The US now plans to reintroduce these bombs to the UK too .

The weapons have recently been upgraded to make them more accurately deliverable and their yield can be dialled up or down from around 0.3 of a kiloton to 50 kilotons. The bomb which laid waste to Hiroshima was just 15 kilotons.

Russia has recently completed the transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. We are suggesting that the United States should be urged to withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons from European soil in exchange for Russia taking its nuclear weapons out of Belarus and withdrawing its troops from Ukraine.

We think that floating this idea could be useful on several fronts. It draws attention to the presence of US nuclear weapons in Europe, which many people may be unaware of and it is a proposal which would allow all sides in the conflict to claim some level of victory.

If such a plan were to be adopted it would significantly reduce the risk of nuclear war, as it is the smaller tactical weapons which are most likely to be used.

It would save many Ukrainian and Russian lives; end the destruction of homes, industry, agricultural land and infrastructure in Ukraine; allow grain to flow freely again; and allow the billions of dollars which would have been spent on further fighting to be redirected to rebuilding.

And it would be a popular idea. An opinion poll in 2020 showed that 74% of Italians wanted US nuclear weapons removed from their soil, with a similar figure in the Netherlands and over 80% in Germany.

As the recent BBC documentary ‘Nuclear Armageddon’ made clear the risk of nuclear war is higher than it has been at any time since the Cuban Missile crisis. If tactical nuclear weapons could be removed from Europe it might just move the Doomsday Clock a few seconds further away from Midnight.

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