© AP Photo / Charlie Riedel
In a report detailing NATO’s deterrence policy, a Canadian senator for the Defence and Security Committee of the alliance’s Parliamentary Assembly accidentally revealed several sites the US uses to store its weapons of mass destruction in Europe. The list includes bases in Turkey, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
Belgium’s green and socialist parties, Groen and the sp.a, have urged the country’s authorities to discuss the removal of the US nuclear warheads, disclosed as being stored at the Kleine-Brogel Air Base just 90 kilometres from Brussels. The parties’ representatives pledged to raise the issue during a defence parliamentary committee on 17 July although a defence ministry spokesperson has said that “we cannot and should not speak about” the warheads, stored in Belgium, as The Brussels Times report.
Green MP Samuel Cogolati noted that the accidental revelations only confirmed the “open secret” that the EU’s ally from across the pond stations its weapons of mass destruction in Belgium and insisted on meaningful debates.
“We demand a fully transparent debate – we must stop this lying and put an end to this hypocrisy”, he stated.
In an interview with the local broadcaster, Radio 1, fellow party member Wouter De Vriendt suggested that the risks are even higher under the current administration.
“Do we really want weapons of mass destruction in our territory with someone like Donald Trump at the buttons?” he claimed as cited by The Brussels Times.
The leader of the Flemish socialist party John Crombez also backed the call to discuss the matter and finally proceed with nuclear disarmament.
“Most of the world is ready for nuclear disarmament. Belgium is not, and that was one of the reasons why the F-35 jets were purchased. It’s time for transparent debates about that. sp.a wants Belgium to finally take the side of disarmament”, he posted on Twitter.
At the same time, the Belgian outlet De Morgen cited an anonymous military source, claiming that the country benefitted from the situation, noting that removing the nukes would be costlier than keeping them and result in the necessity of allocating additional funds for defence.
“Nuclear weapons in our country do not cost our country anything — and we sit at the table with the big boys”, the insider suggested.
The debates were prompted by a report authored by a Canadian senator for the Defence and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which allegedly unintentionally disclosed some sites in Europe where US nuclear weapons are stored. Although a copy of the initial report, published in April, and its fresher version had no such information, the original version was published by the media.
According to it, 150 nuclear warheads, B-61 gravity bombs in particular, are said to be stored in several European countries, namely Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
“These bombs are stored at six US and European bases — Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in The Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey”, the report reads, cited by The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, police officers in the Turkish province of Bolu only recently found 18 grams of the radioactive substance, californium, used in the production of nuclear warheads, which is valued at $72 million and requires special authorisation to be imported.