Poland would like to get a hand on NATO’s nuclear weapons by virtue of the Alliance’s nuclear-sharing program. The request for nuclear weapon access could set alarm for a looming nuclear war among the bigger players, U.S., Russia and NATO.
Russia is an old-time foe to Poland. The latter is a staunch NATO ally and the nuclear weapons it would want to access would come from the U.S.
Poland’s deputy defense minister, Tomasz Szatkowski, was reported as saying that his country’s Defense Ministry is considering asking NATO for access to the Alliance’s nuclear weapons. According to The Independent, the request is possible under NATO’s nuclear-sharing program which allows non-nuclear members to borrow nuclear weapons from the U.S.
Among the 28 members of NATO, only the U.S., France and the United Kingdom owned nuclear weapons. Among them, only U.S. possessed more than enough nuclear weapons for other NATO allies to borrow. Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Germany are currently borrowing from the U.S. Meanwhile, Canada and Greece both had U.S. nuclear weapons since 1984 and 2001, respectively.
The sour relations between Poland and Russia date back to the Middle Ages when the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Muscovy were fighting over their borders. This situation remains the status quo.
In the 19th to 20th century, Russia gained much control of Poland. Russia then made Poland a vassal state under Communism from 1989 to 1993. However, in recent years, Poland continued to turn away from Russia. It embraced fully the alliance offered by NATO and agreed to house an American antimissile system. The arrangement had since been viewed as a threat by Russia.
Russia had always claimed that NATO nuclear arrangements violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty signed by all countries that own nuclear weapons. NATO argued that the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on territories of NATO allies is fully consistent with the treaty. “It is Russia that has started to use its nuclear weapons as a tool in its strategy of intimidation. Russia has increased nuclear rhetoric and stepped up its nuclear exercises. Russian nuclear-capable bombers are flying close to Alliance borders. Russia has also threatened to base nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad and Crimea,” NATO alleged.
Szatkowski’s statement was widely reported over the weekend since there have been rumors of a looming nuclear war among U.S., NATO against Russia since the latter’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. On Sunday, Poland’s defense ministry issued a statement denying that Poland want access of NATO’s nuclear weapons. The ministry said that Szatkowski’s statement was misquoted. Poland “is not engaged in any work aimed at joining NATO’s nuclear sharing program. The comment by the deputy minister should be set in the context of recent remarks made by serious Western think-tanks, which point to deficits in NATO’s nuclear deterrent capability on its eastern flank,” the statement reads.