In the wake of Russia placing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday that his country wants to join the nuclear exchange program among NATO countries.
NATO’s nuclear sharing program makes nuclear weapons available to member states that do not possess them. The U.S. is the only country believed to have supplied nuclear weapons, B-61-series air-dropped nuclear bombs, as part of the program. As of October, the Federation of American Scientists estimated about 100 B-61s were spread across six bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
“The final decision will depend on our US and NATO partners,” Morawiecki said, according to Polish news station Polsat News, at the end of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels. “We declare our will to act quickly in this regard. We don’t want to sit back while [Russian President Vladimir] Putin escalates all sorts of threats.”
On May 25, the defense ministers of Russia and Belarus signed documents on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, according to European Pravda, which on June 16 added that Putin announced the first Russian tactical nuclear warheads were in Belarus, and the final transfer will be completed by the end of the year.
Belarus is on Poland’s eastern border and Putin sent troops from Belarusian territory into Ukraine when it began its invasion in February 2022. It is not known how many nuclear weapons Russia will be transferring into Belarus.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby would not comment Friday on whether Poland would be part of the NATO nuclear sharing program.
“I have nothing to say about any talks of this type,” Kirby said, according to Polsat News. “And anyway, we’re just not talking about deploying our nuclear systems, so I’m certainly not going to start doing that today.
“One thing I can say is that we have not changed our strategic deterrence disposition.”
In October, as the Russia-Ukraine war was raging in its backyard, Poland spoke to the U.S. about sharing nuclear weapons, according to Bloomberg. Poland President Andrzej Duda didn’t specify who he had spoken with in the U.S. government. Bloomberg reported a White House official said they were unaware of the issue being raised and referred further questions to Poland’s government.