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 charged with tresspassing and suspected of committing violence against the fence of the Airbase.
The activists of “Disarm” in a statement explain they want to raise attention for the fact that the Netherlands continues to store nuclear weapons and that these weapons should be given back to US 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 for 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 US announced it expects thecosts 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.