Actions at NATO
In the beginning of November the French news agency AFP came up with the news of the retreat of the US nuclear weapons out of Europe. This withdrawal would be announced in December on one of the ministerial meetings of NATO. Would nuclear weapons disappear form Kleine Brogel? Was action in that case still necessary? We thought it was. Perhaps nukes disappeared from Belgium, but not from the world. NATO remained a nuclear alliance. The potential retreat concerned only 150 of the 10000 nuclear weapons, which were deployed by the 3 NATO nuclear states. Meanwhile the NATO-ministers solved this question: no retreat.
NATO ministers met twice in Brussels. First the ministers of defense came together on 2-3 December, as Nuclear Planning Group. This body controls and plans the deployment and possible use of nuclear weapons. On 15-16 December the ministers of Foreign Affairs met, as North Atlantic Council. This body defines the political position of NATO. These gatherings we could not leave unnoticed. Our main message was that not only the nukes in Kleine Brogel are a problem, but also the people who decide to create that problem. The planning of NATO’s nuclear strategy comes down to preparing war crimes. The bunch of NATO ministers forms a bunch of war criminals. At te the first meeting we delivered a new Citizens Summons. This summons the ministers to comply with international law. We pointed to the illegality of nuclear weapons and that the retreat of a limited number is not enough. To comply with international law NATO should work on total nuclear disarmament. The summons stated as well that in case of sustained refusal to comply, the international peace movement would use all nonviolent means to force them. A similar Citizens Summons was delivered a first time at the NATO-meeting in Madrid on 8 July 1997. This was followed with Citizens War Crime Inspections at different nuclear military sites, like the air force base in Kleine Brogel. Our new Citizens Summons functioned as well as a warning for our new Citizens inspection of the NATO headquarters on 16 December. Brussels police reacted quite anxious. At the first glimp of a banner a line of uniforms came running, as bulls to a red rag. This time the rag was not red but ‘NATO’s nuclear plans are illegal’ on white. Despite the display of power we could deliver a Citizens Summons for each minister. The second NATO ministerial meeting was visited by a group of citizens war crime inspectors. 70 people showed up for an attempt to infiltrate the NATO fortress through the sea of blue uniforms. A small group did a symbolic action at the NATO entrance. Meanwhile small groups of citizens inspectors tried to get in, armed with a list of pressing questions. However asking questions on a site of crime is considered as disturbing public order. As a consequence 50 activists ended up in jail for a while.
Because display of power is not an adequate answer to our questions, inspections will continue. NATO meetings will not pass by quietly. Till nukes are completely disappeared.
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Friends of the Earth Flanders & Brussels (formerly For Mother Earth) is a member of Friends of the Earth International