Inspectors arrested at NATO nuke base
New inspection on suspicion of presence of nuclear weapons in Belgium. Largest action of civil disobedience at NATO airbase Kleine Brogel, February 21 1999.
A large group of Belgian Members of Parliament, artists, authors, leaders of social cultural groups and activists carried out a new ‘Citizens Inspection’ of the Belgian NATO base of Kleine Brogel (Peer). 160 people gathered in the rain at 1 p.m. at the Belgian-American gate of the NATO base and requested the Commander Buyse to be allowed to do an inspection of the nuclear vaults and the US part of the base. Following a refusal by the commander to give access to a delegation of Belgian Members of Parlia ment and NGO representatives, a large number of people ‘cut their own door through the fence’ and inspected the base. Despite the fact that the inspection was announced as non-violent by the organisers, both Patrik Van Krunkelsven (President of the Flemis h regionalist party) and Johan Malcorps, Green Flemish MP, were attacked by military dogs. MP Malcorps was brought to the hospital of Neerpelt. 120 citizens inspectors entered the military base. 112 were arrested. They were released in the evening after b eing processed.
The previous years, For Mother Earth and the War Resisters International have organised at regular times Citizens Inspections at the Kleine Brogel military base as they have collected strong evidence that 10 B-61 nuclear bombs are being deployed in thi s north-eastern part of Belgium, and operated by 110 members of the US MUNSS (Munition Support Squadron). Since deployment in 1962 the Belgian authorities have refused to give any clarity about the presence of US nuclear weapons in Belgium.
Both the USA and Belgium have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which prohibits the five declared nuclear weapon-states to deploy nuclear weapons in non-nuclear states like Belgium.The USA is violating its Treaty obligations by storing its nu clear weapons on the Belgian territory, and the Belgian government is complying with this breach of the law by accepting the deployment of these weapons in Kleine Brogel. Furthermore nuclear weapons are in all practical scenario’s in violation with the ex isting rules of international law, as they are weapons of mass-destruction. By participating in this action we want to force a debate in the parliament as well as a social debate on this important issue.
The inspections are organised on analogy of the UNSCOM inspections of the UN in Iraq. The international peace movement has been organising similar ‘Citizens Verification Teams’ at many other nuclear weapons facilities in France, Germany, Israel, the Ne therlands, UK, USA. The Peace movement started this legal campaign of civil (dis)obedience following the historic advisory opinion of the UN International Court of Justice in The Hague which ruled on July 8th 1996 that ‘not only the use but also the threa t to use nuclear weapons is generally contrary to the rules of international law’. The World Court also ruled that there exists a legal obligation to start and bring to a conclusion multilateral negotiations leading to complete nuclear disarmament, referr ing to Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Especially the USA, Britain and France are refusing to start negotiating for a UN convention prohibiting all nuclear weapons. Every year a large majority of Nations have adopted in vain nuclear di sarmament resolutions in the United Nations calling for the nuclear weapon states to abide by their treaty obligations.
During the last Citizens Inspection in Kleine Brogel on October 1, 1998, forty-seven people were arrested, amongst whom 9 Belgian Members of Parliament belonging both to the ruling Christian and Social Democrat Parties, as well as the Green and Regiona list opposition.
According to a 1998 report of the Washington based NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council) the US deploys 150 tactical nuclear weapons Europe: Belgium (10), Germany (45), Greece (10), Italy (30) the Netherlands (10), Turkey (15) and the UK (30). Last year a resolution of the Non Aligned Movement condemned this situation during the NPT PrepCom in Geneva. Next week the Flemish Parliament will vote a resolution calling for a nuclear weapon free zone in Flanders (northern Belgium). The nuclear base of Kle ine Brogel will be affected if this resolution is adopted.
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