Nuclear Treasure Hunt, Kleine Brogel
Nuclear treasure hunt at Belgian AFB forced meeting with Chief of Defence Department in Brussels
It all started on Friday morning September 5th with the release of 'top secret' information at a newsconference in the Flemish Parliament and in an exclusive newspaper article breaking the news. Finally we gathered clear evidence about the presence of 10 US B-61 tactical nuclear weapons in 11 WS3 vaults and 110 US personnel at the Belgian AFB Kleine Brogel. A detailed account of the Washington DC based Natural Resource & Defence Council report of March 1998, uncensored ariel photos and a detailed map of the AFB on 10,000 flyers inviting people to participate in a nuclear Treasure Hunt during the weekend of September 5 & 6, soon made headlines in several Belgian newspapers. The first prize is a return ticket Brussels to Clinton's White House.
This was enough to boost an unusual invitation for a meeting at the Belgian Ministry of Defence in Brussels, just some hours before the start of the treasure hunt. Eloi Glorieux (War Resistors International) and Pol D'Huyvetter (For Mother Earth) were urged to meet with Francois del Marmol, Chief of the Belgian Defence Department, Colonel Pepermans, responsable for the Belgian Air Force, as well as Colonel Van Keersbeek, and the Defence Department's Legal Advisor, Mr. Vanderveken. During a one and half hour meeting, it was clear that the path of non-violent direct actions with 'Citizens Inspections' possibly followed by non-violent 'Citizens Disarmament Teams' (Ploughshares) was choosen as a result of years of vain initiatives of all kind by the Belgian NGO community. Asked by Mr. del Marmol to follow the usual Parliamentary channels, Eloi Glorieux referred to all the questions by Members of Parliament about the suspected presence of B-61 tactical nuclear weapons at the Be1gian military base. They all remained without response!
Though once again no information was released about the controversial base by the Defence Department, the meeting was concluded with an agreement that the Defence Department would organise, in close cooperation with WRI and FME, a Consultation with international lawyers about the implications of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. FME also requested Indigenous People to be invited to testify about their side of story about 'NATO's nuclear deterrent keeping 50 years of peace'.
The start of a treasure hunt
The idea of 'International Weapons Inspection Teams' took a new twist over the weekend of 5th and 6th September, with thousands of members of the public invited to join a treasurehunt for 10 American B-61 nuclear bombs. The event coincided with an airshow at Kleine Brogel Air Force base in the north of Belgium, home to two squadrons of nuclear capable F-16 bombers. Activists from For Mother Earth, War Resisters International, and Faslane Peace Camp were amongst the most eager treasure-hunters. There were 11 arrests on the first day for distributing leaflets containing a classified map of the base. Pol D'Huyvetter;, one of the organisers, got charged for gathering military intelligence, while the others were arrested for 'breach of peace'.
The military guarding the base were reluctant to join in the hunt, with large numbers of the leaflets being confiscated. Another suggestion was that they were collecting the leaflets from members of the public so that they could enter the competition themselves. And with the prize of a ticket to the US, who could blame them?
The second day of the airshow started early with a number of International teams finding, or creating, new ways into the base to continue the treasurehunt. While the WS3 bunkers remained undetected, a large number of suspicious locked F-16 hangers were inspected from the outside. The WS3 vaults are suspected to be inside the F-16 hangars.
It took only some courage and a small hop over a fence, to have three inspectors discover the secret living and recreation area of the 52d MUNSS, the US Munitions Support Squadron. Also a fenced off area where 'lethal force is authorised' was discovered. Gaynor Barrett, an English member of the team, said "We know that these American soldiers are responsible for the nuclear weapons, this is a strong indication that the nukes are there." she added "These small fences are really convenient for weapons inspections, they would make our job at Faslane much easier"
At the end of the day 10 inspoectors got wrongly arrested by security forces on the AFB. They got charged with 'entering military territory without authorization'.
The treasurehunt continues until 10th October, when the winner will be announced;, following another mass inspection expected on 1st October. The inspection team will include among others several Belgian MPs, mayors and artists.
"We hope that by using NVDA these parliamentarians will be able to find out whether these weapons are here." Said Pol D'Huyvetter of FME "MP's have been unable to get a confirmation or denial of the presence of the weapons by asking questions in parliament. We will file a detailed report for MP's this week"
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