Peace and disarmament activists from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States gathered at the Büchel airforce base in Germany this weekend, to protest the U.S. nuclear weapons deployed at the base and at other NATO countries, and to call on nuclar-armed States to end the nuclear arms race, and start a process to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.
The international peace action camp at Büchel started on July 10, just before the recent NATO Summit, and finishes two days after the July 16 Helsinki Summit of Presidents Trump and Putin.
A principle target of the protest is the controversial practice of placing US nuclear weapons known as B61s in other countries, and US plans to replace the current bombs with new ones. Under a program called “nuclear sharing” Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and The Netherlands still deploy a total of 150 Cold War-era US gravity H-bombs. The governments admit to nuclear sharing agreements, but will not confirm the numbers or locations of nuclear weapons on their territories. Critics point out that all five countries are parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which explicitly prohibits nuclear weapons from being transferred to or accepted from others.
‘An overwhelming majority of the German public objects to US/NATO plans to replace the B61s deployed across Europe (including the 20 at Büchel Air Base) with new Hydrogen bombs called the B61-12,’ said Marion Küpker (Germany), a disarmament campaigner with the organization Büchel Is Everywhere. ‘Each of these bombs is more than 10 times as powerful as the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our united resistance will stop the new, illegal nuclear bombs nobody needs.’
‘The world wants nuclear weapons abolished,’ said Bonnie Urfer (United States), former co-director of Nukewatch. ‘To waste billions of dollars replacing them with new ones is outrageous considering the millions now in poverty or in need disaster relief, emergency shelter, and safe drinking water.’
‘Nuclear weapons threaten current and future generations,’ said Marzhan Nurzhan (Kazakhstan), Convener of the Abolition 2000 Youth Network. ‘We continue to experienced the catastrophic impact of nuclear weapons in our country decades ago, so we know that any use of nuclear weapons in a war would create a humanitarian disaster that would continue for hundreds and thousands of years.’
‘Presidents Trump and Putin are about to meet in Helsinki to discuss how to reduce the tensions and military provocations between the two countries,’ said Alyn Ware (New Zealand/Czech Republic), Council Member of the World Future Council speaking from Buchel. ‘The nuclear threat is the highest since the end of the Cold War. The two Presidents should use this opportunity to take their nuclear forces off high alert, commit to never initiating a nuclear war, renew the New START treaty and supplement the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty by removing all tactical weapons from forward deployment, i.e. the US nuclear weapons in Europe and Russian tactical weapons deployed near their western borders.’
On July 11, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation and Cooperation in Europe approved the Berlin Declaration which endorses the call for nuclear-armed States to adopt policies never to initiate a nuclear war (‘no-first-use’ policies) and to adopt other disarmament and confidence-building measures. The declaration also calls on OSCE governments to affirm and achieve the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
‘As the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly includes the legislatures of Russia and the United States, as well as of all NATO countries, the Berlin Declaration could be very influential in the run-up to the Trump-Putin Summit and beyond the summit,’ says Mr Ware who also serves as the Global Coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. ‘The Berlin Declaration joins other parliamentary and civil society calls for Dialogue, détente and disarmament, indicating the breadth of support for the Buchel action this weekend.’