Today campaigners from Abolition 2000, Forum voor Vredesactie, For Mother Earth and Bombspotting will hold a visual action at the start of this NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels at the main gate of NATO headquarters.
According to the campaigners the failure of the NPT review conference means that urgent new initiatives for nuclear disarmament are vital if we want to preserve and strengthen the non-proliferation regime. The withdrawal of the U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe could be such an important step.
No single danger or threat can justify the presence of these nuclear weapons. The U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe continue to be a serious obstacle for further nuclear disarmament and undermine the non-proliferation treaty. Russian Defence Minister Ivanov declared last June 2nd that he is ready to discuss cutbacks of its tactical nuclear weapons only if all nuclear weapon states return their nuclear weapons to their own territory, a clear reference to the U.S. nuclear arsenals in Europe. The U.S. is the only nuclear weapon state to deploy nuclear weapons on foreign territory. On the other hand the European pleas to reinforce the non-proliferation treaty are undermined by the presence of nuclear weapons on its territory. Many countries view U.S. nuclear weapons not only as a violation of the NPT, but also as a real threat, because the U.S. military doctrine does not exclude the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear weapon state.
Politicians across traditional political party lines in several European countries have raised their voices and asked for a removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe, relics from the cold war. According to Abolition 2000, the time to act is now, especially following the failure of the NPT Review Conference in New York last month where the state parties could not agree on a final document, thus undermining the fragile nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The debate over the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons started in several NATO member states. On April 21st the Belgian Senate passed a unanimous resolution calling for the withdrawal of the 480 US nuclear weapons based in Europe. This was soon followed in Germany by the liberal party FDP calling for a withdrawal of U.S. nukes from Germany, which in its turn found support from the ruling Green and Social-democrat members of parliament. Thereupon the German Minister of Defence Mr. Struck proposed to put the retreat of U.S. nuclear weapons based in Europe on the agenda of NATO, following consultation with the NATO member states involved in the nuclear tasks. The French Minister of Defence, Ms. Alliot-Marie, also gave her support to start this debate. The Social-Democrats in The Netherlands have also changed their position on the issue and are now advocates for withdrawal. This while Canada has been a long time supporter for the removal of these U.S. weapons, now also supported by the Christian-democratic party KrF, the party of the Norwegian prime minister. It is clear that despite the political pressure from Washington to keep the status-quo, an increasing number of European politicians are calling for the removal of these obsolete weapons.
The European politicians are finally voicing the unambiguous calls for nuclear disarmament across Europe and the world. Recently, mayors from across Europe are joining the Emergency Campaign of the "Mayors For Peace" network, a network led by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The campaign calls for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons by 2020. The campaign was endorsed by two resolutions in the European Parliament, while a fast growing number of European mayors are becoming members of the network. In Europe many mayors have joined the now 1000+ member network, with 235 mayors in Belgium, 30 in Britain, 176 in Germany, 49 in Italy, 11 in the Netherlands, 49 in Norway and 25 in Spain to name some countries where the campaign is starting to have an impact. New mayors are joining the network on a daily basis. Last April approximately one thousand citizens, amongst whom several Members of Parliament, inspected several NATO-sites in Belgium as part of the Bombspotting campaign, accusing NATO of an illegal nuclear policy.
To increase pressure on NATO members, For Mother Earth – Friends of the Earth Flanders, is organising an international peace walk from Ypres, stopping at NATO HQ in Brussels and going on to the NATO nuclear base of Kleine Brogel, from July 26th till August 9th. This walk will mark the 60th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hundreds of participants are expected.
Press contacts for more information:
Abolition 2000 Europe, part of the global network to eliminate nuclear weapons
& For Mother Earth at NATO headquarters: Pol D'Huyvetter +32-495/28.02.59 firstname.lastname@example.org
More Abolition 2000 contacts across Europe on http://www.abolition2000europe.org/countrycontacts.php
Forum voor Vredesactie / Bomspotting vzw : 0479/68.24.43
Websites with more information:
Abolition 2000 Europe
Abolition 2000 Global network
For Mother Earth Friends of the Earth Flanders
Mayors for Peace – international network
Latest NRDC report on U.S. nukes in Europe, Hans Kristensen, February 2005
For more information: http://www.abolition2000europe.org
Friends of the Earth Flanders & Brussels (formerly For Mother Earth) is a member of Friends of the Earth International