The German air force is preparing to adapt some of its Tornado warplanes to carry more up-to-date US atom bombs in light of plans by Washington to modernize its nuclear arsenal in Germany, a media report said on Saturday.
German newsmagazine "Spiegel" reported that U.S. President Barack Obama had approved the last phase of development for a new atom-bomb model, B61-12, that is to go into full-scale production from 2020.
Washington then intended to station some of the modernized weapons at the Büchel airbase in Germany's western Eifel region, the report said.
Experts estimate that some 10 to 20 nuclear warheads from the Cold War period are currently stored in Büchel, with German Tornado warplanes standing by to carry them if it is deemed necessary. The area is under strict protection, with some US soldiers also stationed there.
The plans come as Poland and Baltic states urge NATO to up its nuclear and other military deterrents in the face of what they see as Russian territorial aggression.
The plans for modernization would seem to contradict U.S. President Barack Obama's stated goal of nuclear disarmament, an objective he pledged to pursue at the start of his first term in office in 2009.
Germany itself has pledged not to create nuclear weapons under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Read more on Deutsche Welle.