Senate urges government action on ridding Europe of nuclear weapons

17 February 2011

Senate urges government action on ridding Europe of nuclear weapons

A majority in the Senate is of the opinion that the government should be doing more to ensure that tactical nuclear weapons are removed from Europe. A joint motion from the SP and Labour calling on the government to explain what concrete measures it intends to take to further disarmament can count on a clear majority.

Describing himself as “delighted” by this, SP Senator Arjan Vliegenthart said, “For decades the SP has argued along with the peace movement that these weapons must be removed from Europe, starting with the Netherlands. It’s good that ever more parties are joining the growing consensus that these nuclear weapons have had their day.” Referring to the right-wing ‘free market’ liberals, he said that he was “particularly pleased that the VVD support the motion calling on the government to explain what it is doing in concrete terms to contribute to removing the tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.”

During the debate, Vliegenthart gave a summary of a long list of politicians and former politicians who are arguing for the removal of NATO’s nuclear weapons from Europe. “If we are to believe the media,” he said, “groups have been established in numerous countries who from some quite unexpected perspectives are advocating a nuclear weapons-free Europe. There’s the American ‘Gang of Four’ - Kissinger, Schultz, Perry and Nunn – the British ‘Gang of Four’ - Hurd, Rifkind, Owen and Robertson, the Italian ‘Gang of Five’ consisting of D'Alema, Fini, La Malfa, Parisi and Colegero. There are the Germans Schmidt, Von Weizsäcker, Bahr en Genscher, the Poles Kwasniewski, Masowiecki and Walesa, the Norwegians, Nordli, Brundtland, Willoch, Bondevik and Stoltenberg., the French Juppé, Norlain, Richard en Rocard and closer to home the Belgian Gang of Four Claes, Verhofstadt, De Haene en Michel. And in our own country as well we have our own Gang of Four: Lubbers, Van der Stoel, Korthals Altes and the late Van Mierlo.”

NATO’s new Strategic Concept, which formed the subject of the Senate debate, offers opportunities for nuclear disarmament. In contrast to earlier Strategic Concepts, the document no longer draws a link between the deterrent effect that NATO is supposed to have on potential enemies, and the tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. According to Senator Vliegenthart, that’s a gain. “We have always been adherents to the slogan ‘All nuclear weapons must go, starting in the Netherlands’. And although this motion still doesn’t go nearly that far, it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and one with which we can be quite happy.”

You are here