Foreign Minister's proposals for cutting back nuclear weapons too weak

3 May 2010

Foreign Minister's proposals for cutting back nuclear weapons too weak

"Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen is ducking the issues and allowing a historic chance to make the Netherlands and Europe free of nuclear weapons to go begging." This was SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen's reaction to Verhagen's performance in New York. Two weeks ago a large majority in the Dutch Parliament voted in favour of an SP proposal that a message should be sent to the United States government to the effect that the Netherlands no longer desires nuclear protection and that withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Europe is now advisable. At today's Non-Proliferation Treaty review Conference, however, Verhagen refused to respect Parliament's wishes and spoke instead of no more than a reduction of the number of nuclear weapons in Europe.

Krista van Velzen“It's a terrible waste that the minister let this chance go," says Van Velzen. "At last an American president is working seriously on disarmament and this government goes along with it in such a half-hearted fashion. Today we can see the start of a solution, the beginning of a nuclear weapons-free zone in Europe, but this outgoing minister would rather remain a part of the problem. Reduction isn't the same as withdrawal. It's a weak proposal that contributes far too little to a nuclear weapons-free Europe.”

Van Velzen blamed Verhagen for his failure to do what Parliament had asked him to. "A minister should follow motions from Parliament to the letter. Parliament asked him to tell the US that withdrawal of nuclear weapons was necessary and to make it clear that nuclear protection is no longer desired. An outgoing minister cannot allow himself to give his own twist to an assignment from Parliament. Verhagen is letting down millions of people who have struggled for decades against nuclear weapons, and we should not just let that happen."

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