For the second time in a row, Operation Steadfast Noon [1] - the Nato drill for nuclear war - is taking place in Italy. The first drill was in 2013 at Aviano (Pordenone) and the second, this year at Ghedi-Torre (Brescia), where the fiftieth anniversary of lining up US nuclear weapons on this base is being celebrated. Steadfast Noon 2014, took place over the last ten days of October and the following countries took part: the United States, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Turkey. The novelty? For the first time, Polish F-16 bomber fighters participated in a nuclear drill.

Under US command, fighter bombers have been trained to attack with the B61, (the US bombs stored at Ghedi and Aviano which approximately total 70-90). The number being carried out is confined to the military domain. The word in the public domain is that the B61 will be converted from free-falling bombs into B61-12 “smart” bombs, that can be launched far off from the target. The B61-12 with precision guidance, whose cost is forecast at 8-12 billion dollars for 400-500 bombs, takes the form of a polyvalent weapon with an average power of 50 kiloton (about four times that of the Hiroshima Bomb). This will function as a package of bombs, including those projected to “behead” the enemy country, destroying central commands bunkers and other underground structures in a nuclear first strike. To this end, B61-12 “will work together with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter”.

The Polish fighter bombers, which have taken part in the nuclear war drill in Italy, have been transferred to Ghedi from the Lask air base in Poland, where the US Air Force has lined up a contingent from the Spangdahlem airbase in Germany. The 52° Munitions Maintenance Group is also based at Spangdahelem. This is a base entrusted with maintaining around 200 US bombs stored in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Turkey. Taking off from the Lask base, a US F-16 fighter, armed with nuclear bombs, can reach the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in 12 minutes and Moscow in less than an hour.

The F-16s that Poland has purchased from the US Lockheed, at a cost of 5 billion dollars, have now been armed with Agm-158 cruise missiles, purchased once again from Lockheed. These missiles have nuclear heads that are capable of bringing destruction by penetrating underground command posts, 400 km away. And at the same time, the Polish F-16 pilots are trained for nuclear attack. Moscow is paying no heed: at the end of October, around 25 Russian fighters and bombers have flown over the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Atlantic to demonstrate their capacity to strike targets in Poland and other Nato countries.

Italy, by hosting US nuclear arms and drills for a nuclear war is in breach of the Non Proliferation Treaty (the “NPT”) on nuclear weapons that it ratified in 1975. This same treaty has been violated by all the other states participating in Steadfast Noon, that have ratified the NPT. The United States, as a State in possession of nuclear weapons, has a treaty obligation not to transfer them to others (Art. 1). Italy, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Turkey, as non-nuclear states, have a treaty obligation not to receive weapons from anyone (Art. 2). On 29 October, while the Polish F-16 were participating in nuclear war drills in Italy, President Napolitano receives the Polish President Komorowski at the Quirinale, declaring that “Poland shares with us the lofty ideals of the very first European project based on peace”.

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)

[1This was the codename proposed by the Italian contingency in the competition for the best code name.