Representative Image.Reuters

A leaked report of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has revealed that the United States has stored as many as 150 nuclear weapons, specifically B61 gravity bombs, in European countries such as Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

The document titled 'A New Era for Nuclear Deterrence? Modernisation, Arms Control, and Allied Nuclear Forces' released by NATO in April reveals the secret stash, according to Belgian newspaper De Morgen. The report stated: "These bombs are stored at six US and European bases - Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Buchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in The Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey." 

While the document was deleted, the draft version states that the report was drawn from a Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-governmental organization 2018 report, that does not reveal any specific details about the whereabouts or the type of nuclear weapons. 

Canadian Senator Joseph Day wrote the report for the Defense and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. However, the report was the first draft and changes may be made before NATO parliamentary assembly in November. "All information used in this report is open-source material," Day told Washington Post.

NATO officials have refrained from discussing the location of US nuclear weapons in Europe. However, "This is not an official NATO document," an official said on conditions of anonymity.

'Open Secret'

However, Day told Global News that the 'leak' was intentional. "I think it's very important people understand this was an honest attempt by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, one of the committees, to inform the public, but more importantly to inform the lawmakers and the Parliamentarians about what the current state of affairs is in relation to this important aspect of NATO in maintaining peace and security in the world."

"And to suggest that there was a mistake or to suggest that somehow we were leaking information that wasn't public information before is wrong and it's more sensationalism and false reporting," he added.

Lawmaker Samuel Cogolat told AFP that the nuclear weapon hidden in Kleine-Brogel airbase in northern Belgium was an "open secret".

"We demand a fully transparent debate - we must stop this lying and put an end to this hypocrisy," he said.

Even the Director for Disarmament and Threat-reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, Kingston Reif told the Washington Post that US nuclear weapons were not a surprise, "This has long been fairly open knowledge," he said.

He also revealed that the nuclear weapons were originally kept in preparation to stop "a Soviet invasion of Western Europe because of inferior US and NATO conventional forces - no longer exists," Reif said.

A Belgian minister reportedly acknowledged the presence of US nuclear weapons at Kleine-Brogel,  in north-west Brussels during the 1980s reported Gulf News.