Four Dutch activists arrested at Volkel Airbase, home to American nuclear bombs

Foto0007-1March 21, from Susi Snyder, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Some news from the Netherlands, which is gearing up (and shutting down!) to host 53 heads of State and Government next week for the Nuclear Security Summit:

To draw attention to a significant lack of nuclear security in our little country, this week four Dutch activists entered the secured zone of Volkel Airbase and managed to take a picture of one of the SW3 bunkers in which American B61 nuclear bombs are kept. The activists were arrested and remain detained.

The note read: “In this bunker are two nuclear weapons. Back to the USA.”

The activists of “Disarm” explained in a statement that they want to raise attention to the fact that the Netherlands continues to store nuclear weapons and that these weapons should be given back to U.S. president Obama when he visits the Netherlands next week for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS).

The breaking into the secure area of Volkel Airbase is remarkable and a repetition of  similar actions by Belgian activists  in the past years. The actions have raised questions about the security of the bases and the nuclear bombs that are stored in these locations.

The timing, so short before the NSS, is no coincidence. The activists want to raise awareness of the fact that the NSS will talk about security of nuclear materials but not those nuclear materials that are used for military purposes.

The timing is interesting for another reason as well. Only last week, the U.S. announced it expects the costs for securing the deployment of its nuclear weapons in Europe will double in the coming year. Perhaps without even realising it, the activists seem to prove that indeed, security of the base is not enough to prevent unauthorised people approaching the bunkers in which bombs are stored that can detonate with a force 28 stronger than the one that devastated Hiroshima.

The action feeds a growing debate in the Netherlands on the rationale for the continued deployment of nuclear weapons on Dutch soil, against the long term majority opinion in the population and in Parliament.

It is not yet clear if the activists will be indicted.

PAX has also been active, and trying to raise concerns about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in a series of events, media appearances and more-

We issued a press statement, and have a bunch of events planned (and already ongoing) these weeks.