Nuclear weapons in the Netherlands? Get rid of the stupid things!

17 June 2013

Nuclear weapons in the Netherlands? Get rid of the stupid things!

In a recent documentary on National Geographic television ex-Prime Minister of the Netherlands Ruud Lubbers confirmed the presence of American nuclear weapons in our country. Quite rightly, he called these weapons of mass destruction ‘stupid things’ which are absolutely useless.

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel

Harry van BommelCalling on the government to get these useless weapons out of the Netherlands has unfortunately to date fallen on deaf ears. If Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans is to take seriously his earlier pronouncements as a Member of Parliament, there is now a good chance that we will at last break with this repugnant tradition.

During a parliamentary debate towards the end of 2010, for example, Timmermans, speaking about the tactical nuclear weapons on European territory, said that they ‘are about as useful as the nipples on a male pig,’ and that they could simply be cleared out of Europe, adding that the Americans could take them home and that our security would actually be increased. He called nuclear weapons ‘totally redundant’ and expressed the wish that they would be consigned to the scrap heap of history.

A year later, in a debate in April 2011, this view was repeated when Timmermans explained that it was not out of pacifism or ‘nuclear pacifism’, but on the basis of purely strategic and tactical considerations that his Labour Party parliamentary group believed that nuclear weapons could be returned to the United States, as in his view they served no purpose and both literally and figuratively were simply in the way.

A further year went by and Timmermans had, in April 2012, certainly not changed his opinion. During another debate he said that his political group was known to be a supporter of renouncing the nuclear responsibilities accepted by the Netherlands in the framework of its NATO membership. There should therefore be negotiations with the United States over the removal of any nuclear weapons which may be present on Dutch territory as the political implications meant that such weapons should not be in the Netherlands.

A month later I proposed a motion. Because as relics of the Cold War tactical nuclear weapons in Europe had no further military significance, and because within NATO circles there was no talk of real steps towards their removal from European soil, this motion called on the government to negotiate directly with the United States government on the renouncing of nuclear responsibilities. Given that this was wholly in line with the Labour Party’s views, Timmermans voted in favour.

Now, over a year since this clear resolution, Timmermans, in his capacity as minister, has a real opportunity to rid the Netherlands of nuclear weapons, so he should simply send the stupid things by express delivery back to the United States. This would also make the extremely costly programme to modernise these nuclear weapons redundant. Hesitation would lead to implementation of the modernisation programme which would give the Americans yet more reasons to maintain them in the Netherlands and other European countries. Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans can now, therefore, make a real difference.

This article first appeared, in the original Dutch, on the website joop.nl on 10th June, 2013.

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