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Protesting U.S. Nukes in the Netherlands


Susi Snyder, PAX

Some news from the Netherlands, which is gearing up (and shutting down!) to host 53 heads of State and Government next week for the Nuclear Security Summit.

To draw attention to a significant lack of nuclear security in our little country, this week, four Dutch activists entered the secured zone of Volkel Airbase and managed to take a picture of one of the SW3 bunkers in which American B61 nuclear bombs are kept. The activists were arrested and remain detained.

http://www.omslag.nl/image2014/Foto0007.jpeg

The note says: In this bunker are two nuclear weapons. Back to the USA.

The activists of “Disarm” in a statementexplain they want to raise attention for the fact that the Netherlands continues to store nuclear weapons and that these weapons should be given back to US president Obama when he visits the Netherlands next week for the Nuclear Security Summit(NSS).

The breaking into the secure area of Volkel Airbase is remarkable and a repetition of similar actions by Belgian activistsin the past years. The actions have raised questions about the security of the bases and the nuclear bombs that are stored in these locations.

The timing, so short before the NSS is no coincidence. The activists want to raise awareness for the fact that the NSS will talk about security of nuclear materials but not those nuclear materials that are used for military purposes.

The timing is interesting for another reason as well. Only last week, the US announced it expects the costs for securing the deployment of its nuclear weapons in Europe will doublein the coming year. Perhaps without even realising it, the activists seem to prove that indeed, security of the base is not enough to prevent unauthorised people approaching the bunkers in which bombs are stored that can detonate with a force 28 stronger than the one that devastated Hiroshima.

The action feeds a growing debate in the Netherlands on the rationale for the continued deployment of nuclear weapons on Dutch soil, against the long term majority opinion in the population and in Parliament.

The activists are currently still detained. It is not yet clear if they will be indicted.

PAX has also been active, and trying to raise concerns about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in a series of events, media appearances and more-

We issued a press statement, and have a bunch of events planned (and already ongoing) these weeks:

The forgotten topic of the NSS

Delegations from all over the world are gathering on 24 and 25 March at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague to talk about nuclear security. They will hold discussions on how to prevent nuclear terrorism and how to secure nuclear materials. However, what they won’t do is talk about nuclear weapons. Dutch peace organisation PAX thinks this is inconceivable. ‘If we are talking about terrorism, if we are talking about (in)security, we cannot leave out nuclear weapons.

PAX recently published the report ‘The Rotterdam blast’, in which PAX outlines a realistic scenario on what would happen if a nuclear bomb would explode it in Europe’s largest logistic and industrial hub: the port of Rotterdam. The Rotterdam scenario is a good example of nuclear insecurity and fits into the NSSagenda. In a promotion videofor the NSS Rotterdam is mentioned as a transit point for smuggling of nuclear materials, but no one talks about the risks associated with nuclear weapons.

Border Sessions

PAX thinks the absence of nuclear weapons on the NSS agenda is a missed opportunity. Susi Snyder from PAX: ‘We will participate in several events during the NSS to put this topic on the agenda. For example, on 23 March I will speak at the Border Sessionsin The Hague. I am going to talk about the dangers and consequences of nuclear weapons and the urgent need to outlaw nuclear weapons.

Another speaker at the Border Sessions is research journalist Eric Schlosser, author of the book ‘Command and Control’. Schlosser researched aground-breaking account of accidents, near-missesand near-accidents with nuclear weapons. ‘All the more reason to talk about nuclear weapons during the NSS’, according to Snyder.

Unstable governments

Snyder continues: ‘People often think that no rational person would ever use a nuclear weapon. However, recent history shows that political developments are unpredictable and many governments are unstable. In addition, there are real terrorist threats. If there are no nuclear weapons, they can not be used. That is why PAX is calling for a nuclear weapons free world.‘

Here are some more links on what we’ve been up to and are planning: 

The Nuclear Knowledge Summit (see more here: http://www.knowledgesummit.org/index.php/contact-2/program/thursday-20-march/#)

Border Sessions (see more here: http://nss.bordersessions.org/#sessions)

Bike Around the Bomb: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bike-around-the-bomb-tickets-1528197881?aff=eorgf

Symposium : Engineers for nuclear security: https://afdelingen.kiviniria.net/ykn/tr?transaction=KIVI_ACT006&PARAM1=4896#.UyBpPxzHGqs

Movies that Matter: Countdown to Zero (23 March): http://www.moviesthatmatter.nl/festival/programma/talkshows_en_debatten/449  and Into Eternity (25 March): http://www.moviesthatmatter.nl/festival/programma/film/1528

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