Defence Ministry must not ignore American criticism of nuclear weapons base security

15 July 2008

Defence Ministry must not ignore American criticism of nuclear weapons base security

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen describes herself as “astonished” by the lax attitude of Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop when it comes to the security arrangements for American nuclear weapons housed on the Dutch Royal Air Force force base at Volkel. “Investigators from the USAF have been visiting the various European air force bases where American nuclear weapons are housed,” said Van Velzen, SP spokeswoman on defence and disarmament issues. “Their conclusion was that not a single base came up to scratch on security measures. Van Middelkoop is acting just as if there's no problem at all. This seems to me, in the case of nuclear weapons and security, exactly the reaction we don't want to see. He should be going to the Americans and asking to be filled in on all the details.”

Krista van VelzenVan Velzen describes the inspectors' report as lacking nothing in clarity. “'A consistently noted theme throughout the visits was that most sites require significant additional resources to meet Department of Defence security requirements.'” is one quote which isn't exactly written in obscure jargon!” According to the report, safety systems, lighting systems and fences are all inadequate.

In Germany the same report provoked a substantial political debate in which politicians from opposition parties as well as the governing SPD demanded a complete withdrawal of nuclear weapons from the country. Van Velzen agrees that this would be an excellent solution, and one which would certainly guarantee security. “But for the time being,” she adds, “I want Van Middelkoop's assurance that he will go knocking on the door of the US government to find out exactly what they uncovered on the American section of the Volkel air base. The people of the nearby towns around Uden and the rest of the country have the right to be able to sleep peacefully in the knowledge that weapons of mass destruction are at least housed as safely as is possible.”

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