Friday, 4 December 2009

Former Dutch Prime Minister Lubbers Calls for Withdrawal of US Nukes from Europe

Following the example of Sam Nunn, William Perry, Geroge Schulz and Henry Kissinger, a group of leading Dutch politicians has called in the newspaper NRC Handelsblad for the Netherlands to actively work for a nuclear weapon free world, and in particular, the revision of NATO's Strategic Concept to include the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from NATO. Led by former Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, the group wrote that:

As a member of Nato the Netherlands should make itself heard in the upcoming revision of its Strategic Concept. We have gratefully benefited from the nuclear protection of the United States. Now we must show ourselves a strong ally by supporting Obama’s goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons according to the faithful implementation of Article VI of the NPT.

Given the clear indications the United States takes nuclear disarmament very seriously and that the original objective of deterrence has lost its validity, we need to ensure that neither the United States nor the other Nato allies wait for each other. The Netherlands should play an active role, so that the revision of the Strategic Concept will lead to the withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from the territories of non-nuclear weapon states.

The signature of Lubbers on this piece is especially significant, since he worked hard in the teeth of fierce opposition in the 1980s to force the deployment of US nuclear cruise missiles to the Netherlands. There were reports in the Dutch media last year that Lubbers had told the Dutch anti-nuclear group, IKV, that the US nuclear weapons deployed at Volkel air base in the Netherlands were obsolete and should be removed. Now, Lubbers has publicly called for their withdrawal.

Lubbers was joined by Max van der Stoel, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hans van Mierlo, a former Minister of Defense and of Foreign Affairs; and Frits Korthals Altes, a former Minister of Justice.

Their piece in NRC Handelsblad comes after the Dutch government gave its support to the German government's initiative to have NATO affect just such a withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany, a move also supported publicly by Belgium and Norway.

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