by Michaela Dodge
The Heritage Foundation
February 18, 2014
Backgrounder
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has withdrawn about 90 percent of its forward-deployed nuclear weapons from Europe. In 2013, the Obama Administration initiated the Life Extension Program (LEP) for the B61 tactical nuclear weapon, which is the last nuclear weapon the U.S. keeps in Europe and the only remaining tactical nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. The U.S. and NATO have a continued interest in maintaining the U.S. nuclear presence in Europe since U.S. weapons contribute to the cohesion of the alliance. The U.S. must maintain a strong position in order to protect its national security interests, assure allies, and deter adversaries. It must develop capabilities that allow it to pursue a “protect and defend” strategy. The B61 LEP is a part of that strategy. It will also maintain a U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.



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