Hopeful treaty between Obama and Medvedev demands reactions from the Netherlands

8 April 2010

Hopeful treaty between Obama and Medvedev demands reactions from the Netherlands

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen describes herself as 'relieved and delighted' that the Russians and Americans have taken the decision to reduce the size of their nuclear armoury. "After years of stagnation in this matter this is an important step. Let's see if it can be the starting point for more steps forward. The Netherlands too could make an important contribution by returning the US nuclear weapons currently stationed at the Volkel air base to Obama.”

Krista van VelzenIn this, Van Velzen is hoping to see support from other parties. “Nuclear weapons are, after all, not left-wing or right-wing, they're a threat to the whole world. Understanding of this is growing throughout Europe. So let's not allow this unique chance to pass us by, let's take real steps towards a nuclear weapon-free Europe, beginning with the Netherlands."

The signing of the START treaty comes at the same time as a new American nuclear weapons strategy, one which does not seek to distance itself from the deterrence theory of weapons of mass destruction but seeks instead to develop a variety of such weapons, putting trust not only in nuclear arms but also heavy conventional weapons. “The discussion around the deterrence theory and the means whereby it might be organised, with nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction or conventional weapons, is simply continuing," says Van Velzen. “We should be aiming for zero. It is, moreover, quite an unpleasant thought that the US budget for nuclear weapons has this year actually increased by ten percent to reach $7bn. If you're striving for a nuclear weapon-free world it would be logical for Obama to lower this budget and renounce the modernisation of nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines.”

The signing of the START treaty kicks off several weeks of discussions and negotiations to take place this spring, such as those which will be held during the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. “A great deal of attention is being paid to countries such as Iran and North Korea as well as to terrorist groups, but that isn't enough," says Van Velzen. “This treaty must be the start of a movement towards disarmament which throughout the world will lead to real and thoroughgoing disarmament. That's why countries such as Israel, Pakistan and India which have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty should be forced to end their illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons.”

The Netherlands and other European countries should not lag behind in this. Hiding under the nuclear umbrella or a missile shield and then demanding of others that they don't develop nuclear weapons is not a satisfactory position. It must be made clear to the rest of the world that we too want to disarm. "I'm calling on the Dutch government and the other parties in the Dutch parliament to say goodbye to nuclear weapons for our F-16s. At the same time I want Dutch pilots to cease training to deliver these weapons. Nuclear weapons must be got rid of from the Netherlands and never come back," Van Velzen says.

Last month, on the initiative of the SP, the peace organisation IKV Pax Christi organised a conference in the national Senate on nuclear disarmament, with prominent supporters of a nuclear-free Europe including former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Ruud Lubbers and national and international parliamentarians from a range of parties. Van Velzen hopes that this conference and the agreement between Obama and Medvedev will lead speedily to further results, including within the Netherlands itself. "I call on my colleagues in Parliament to take steps to enable us to send these bombs to the scrapheap,” she says.

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