Representing a majority in the Dutch Parliament, Raymond Knops of the Dutch Christian Democratic Party (CDA) last night hand delivered a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter speaks for itself and needs no introduction:
Letter to US Congress regarding B61 Modernisation, presented to Mr Mike Turner, member of Congress by Raymond Knops, MP Netherlands in Washington DC.
The Hague/ Washington DC, July 10th 2013
It has come to our attention that discussions are currently taking place in the US on the 2014 Defence Authorisation Bill as well as the relevant appropriations bills. As you may already be aware, there is a great deal of concern throughout Europe about the nuclear weapons modernizations plans contained within these documents, and the projections for future nuclear arms spending in this time of fiscal crisis and austerity.
During the Cold War, the Netherlands and other NATO allies were heavily reliant on the security assurances provided through NATO’s nuclear sharing practice. However, since the end of that period, and the significant reduction of territorial threats, the continued forward deployed nuclear weapons in Europe and in the Netherlands in particular has not been required. Our parliament passed a motion to this effect in 2010.
In December 2012, during our own national budget debates, another motion was passed and supported by a majority of parliament that has a specific resonance to the debates you are carrying out now. The Motion 33 400,V nr 100 “Omtzigt”, about the removal of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe) was of the opinion that, besides the need to stop the forward deployment of nuclear weapons, the resources planned for the modernization of tactical (or sub-strategic) nuclear weapons in Europe “should not be invested”.
As your responsibilities include the authorization or appropriation of funds which could be used for the modernization of the B61- the tactical (or sub-strategic) weapons that are currently stationed in Europe, it was imperative to bring this decision of our national parliament to yours.
In closing, we undersigned members of the Dutch parliament, encourage you to use the anticipated $664,580,000 B61 spending, for other purposes.
On behalf of the other members of Parliament
Pieter Omtzigt Angelien Eijsink Michiel Servaes Jasper van Dijk Harry van Bommel Sjoerd Sjoerdsma Bram van Ojik Henk Krol Marianne Thieme
The U.S. is currently discussing plans to modernise its B61 nuclear gravity bombs, an investment of roughly 11 billion US$. One of the arguments in favour of the modernisation programme is that the U.S. feels obliged to continue to guarantee the security of NATO allies in Europe. The Dutch Parliament, with this letter, again makes it clear that nuclear deployments by the U.S. in Europe are no longer required.
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans in December, promised to send Parliament a policy letter on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. His letter is expected in the coming month. Whether he will address the majority opinion that the B61 nuclear weapons need to be removed from the Netherlands remains to be seen. By directly addressing U.S. counterparts, the Dutch parliament is at least making clear what the expectations are of the Ministers Letter. ‘No modernisation of the B61 on our behalf’, that’s what Parliament says.
By Wilbert van der Zeijden