MPs could debate nuclear weapons in NL

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The secrecy around possible existence of nuclear weapons in the Netherlands should come to an end in favor of an open debate, MPs said yesterday. 

A majority of parliament members made this clear in a discussion with Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans (PvdA).

Source: National Nuclear Security Administration/ United States Department of Energy

Up to now, the government has not disclosed whether there are nuclear weapons in this country.

Last year, however, ex-prime ministers Ruud Lubbers and Dries van Agt, confirmed the existence of American nuclear weapons on Volkel air base.

If this is true, the Netherlands must ask America to take back the weapons, according to Labour Party MP Michiel Servaes (PvdA).

Servaes is one of many MPs who now urge for open discussion about the existence of nuclear weapons on Dutch territory. Germany and the United Kingdom already have permission from NATO to do just this.

According to the cabinet, however, an agreement has been struck within NATO not to discuss the locations and numbers of American nuclear weapons in Europe.

The Volkel air base holds between 10 and 20 nuclear bombs of the type B61. These must be modernized in 2017 for almost half a billion euros. A majority of MPs have already asked the American Congress to abandon this.

Frans Timmermans wants to establish a "larger transparency" when it comes to issues like this. He believes the NATO agreement not to discuss American weapons in Europe is an outdated concept, and promises to bring the issue into discussion with NATO.

Timmermans does emphasize that he needs ally support to broach the subject of the number of nuclear weapons on European territory belonging to NATO. "Until new agreements have been made, we will not discuss locations and numbers", Timmermans said.