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US nuclear weapons could be stationed in UK for first time in 15 years amid Russia threat

The US is preparing to station nuclear weapons in the UK for the first time in more than a decade amid a growing threat from Russia.

Under the proposals, warheads three times as strong as the bomb which devastated Hiroshima would be based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, according to Pentagon documents seen by The Daily Telegraph.

They set out plans for a “nuclear mission” to take place “imminently” at the base.

It comes amid increasing warnings about the prospect of a war with Russia, itself a nuclear power, from British and American military officials.

US nuclear missiles have been kept at RAF Lakenheath in the past but were removed in 2008 at a time when it was considered that the Cold War threat from Moscow had faded.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “It remains a long-standing UK and Nato policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location.”

The documents also reveal procurement contracts for a new facility at the airbase.

The move is thought to be part of a programme across Nato countries to develop and upgrade nuclear sites in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago.

It comes as senior figures on both sides of the Atlantic warn of a potential war between Nato forces and Russia.

Earlier this week, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing head of the British army, floated the idea of a “citizen army” to combat the threat. He warned the 74,000 army personnel the UK currently has would need to be bolstered by at least 45,000 reservists and citizens to prepare for possible conflict.

RAF Lakenheath, home of the US Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing, near Cambridge (AFP via Getty Images)
RAF Lakenheath, home of the US Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing, near Cambridge (AFP via Getty Images)

In response, the government ruled out any move towards conscription, saying that the armed forces would remain voluntary.

Carlos Del Toro, the US navy secretary, has also urged the UK to “reassess” the size of its armed forces given “the threats that exist today”.

Downing Street defended the government’s spending on defence as it pointed out that Britain has been Washington’s “partner of choice” in its strikes against Houthi rebels in the Red Sea due to its "military strength".