Poland can imagine greater participation in NATO's nuclear deterrent - even without stationing nuclear bombs on its territory.
"Poland would potentially be willing to expand its participation and cooperation within the framework of NATO's nuclear deterrent and to take responsibility," said Polish President Andrzej Duda's security adviser, Jacek Siewiera, in an interview with the German Press Agency. "Deploying nuclear weapons is different," he added.
A few days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he wanted to station nuclear weapons in Belarus - a country that borders Poland. NATO countries like the USA and Germany reacted calmly. The US has deployed nuclear weapons in several European countries, including Germany, for many decades. Up to 20 bombs are said to be stored at the Büchel air base in the Rhineland-Palatinate Eifel. Tornado fighter jets are also stationed there, which are supposed to use the weapons in an emergency.
This is called "nuclear sharing" in NATO jargon. So far, Poland has only been involved in consultations, for example in NATO's nuclear planning group, which meets in top secret. Siewiera did not say how exactly he imagines a stronger participation. However, he pointed out that nuclear sharing also includes aircraft that could carry "special weapons".
Duda: "The topic is open"
As early as October last year, Polish President Duda announced his fundamental interest in greater participation in NATO's nuclear deterrence. "We spoke to leading American politicians about whether the United States would consider such a possibility. The issue is open," Duda told the Polish magazine Gazeta Polska at the time. At the time, it was understood that the stationing of nuclear weapons on Polish territory was an option for him.
When asked whether Poland would like nuclear weapons on its territory in order to feel safer, Siewiera said: "It's not about feelings, it's about calculations. There are already numerous nuclear weapons in Europe as part of nuclear sharing."
In addition to Germany, US nuclear weapons are also said to be stored in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey. According to expert estimates, there should still be around 100 in total. The bombs have an explosive force of up to 50 kilotons - about 13 times that of the first US atomic bomb, which almost completely destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. Two other NATO countries, Great Britain and France, have their own nuclear weapons.