Will the US and UK resume nuclear sharing at Lakenheath air base?


As the Federation of American Scientists and UK activists have warned for several months, new budget documents confirm that facilities at a UK airbase, Lakenheath, are being upgraded to store U.S. nuclear weapons. Although the United States has not stored its nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom since they were withdrawn in 2007, Lakenheath would be one of several air bases in Europe where the US stores its nuclear weapons. As Lakenheath is a US air base, it suggests UK pilots would not be responsible for using these weapons in the event of nuclear conflict. 

A 2023 YouGov opinion poll found that the majority of UK citizens oppose U.S. nuclear weapons being hosted on their soil. The UK government should answer to its citizens and to Members of Parliament about this development.

Currently, it is estimated the United States stations 100 nuclear weapons in five countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Türkiye. The B61-12 bombs are replacing existing nuclear weapons stationed in these countries. 

The United Kingdom also possesses 225 of its own nuclear weapons, and in 2021 increased the cap on its arsenal to 260 - a 40% increase from the previously planned decrease to 180 warheads. These are all submarine launched missiles. This increase is being opposed by UK campaigners, who have historically been very active - and ultimately successful - in demanding the removal of US nuclear weapons on their soil.