Wednesday 28-08-2013: [www.somculned.com] Ruud Lubbers, the former Dutch Christian Democrat [CDA] Prime Minister from 1982 to 1994, has broken a taboo of European politics by confirming the presence of American weapons in the bunkers of the Volkel air base.
Holland’s most prominent international statesman poured scorn on the atomic weapons capability that dates back to the height of Nato’s Cold War with the Soviet Union and that will revive calls for US nuclear bombs to be removed from European soil.
“I would never have thought those silly things would still be there in 2013. I think they are an absolutely pointless part of a tradition in military thinking,” he told, De Tijd Vliegt or Time Flies, a National Geographic television documentary.
A spokesman for the Royal Dutch Air Force refused to confirm the revelation made by Mr Lubbers and told the Dutch broadcaster NOS that these issues “are never spoken of”. “He, as former prime minister, knows that well,” he said.
Dutch officials told the Telegraaf newspaper that the weapons are B61 thermonuclear bombs, the primary weapon in America’s post-Cold War “Enduring Stockpile” and a device that packs a punch up four times as powerful as the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
The B61 is designed for delivery by high-speed aircraft, an 11-foot, 770lb weapon with a streamlined casing capable of withstanding supersonic flight speeds and the while he bombs are not dismantled they are not thought to be kept in immediate operational readiness.
Nuclear weapons are said to have been stored at the Volkel base since the early 1960s and the Cuban missile crisis that marked the height of the Cold War.
US diplomatic files, leaked by Wikileaks three years ago, had mentioned atomic weapons in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Turkey amid a 2010 debate over the future of the arsenal following a call from Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, for the nuclear weapons on his country’s soil to be removed.
“A withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany and perhaps from Belgium and the Netherlands could make it very difficult for Turkey to maintain its own stockpile,” the leaked US diplomatic cable said.
Turkey, which is thought to house 90 US atomic weapons at its Incirlik air base, on the northern Mediterranean coast, regards the nuclear umbrella as a key part of its Nato membership on the alliance’s Eastern border with Iran.
At a 2010 summit in Lisbon, Nato decided that any change in the status of its nuclear weapons arsenal would have to be made unanimously among all 28 allies, effectively giving Turkey a veto.
The revelation and criticism from Mr Lubbers could reignite the European nuclear issue as Dutch opposition politicians, on both the left and right, demand that the weapons are removed.
Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister will face questions on the issue in the Dutch parliament on Tuesday and reminders that he, as a Labour opposition MP in 2005, called for the weapons to be removed from Dutch soil.
Harry van Bommel, a Socialist MP, will call for the weapons to be scrapped. “The nuclear strategy of NATO has not changed since the Cold War,” he said.
Raymond Knops, a Christian Democrat MP, took to Twitter to say: “Militarily obsolete, so get rid of them, I would say.”
Source : Telegraaf
Somali Journal in the Netherlands