Dutch Government wants to be part of any process on nuclear weapons, but actions speak louder than words.

In a debate between Dutch Parliamentarians and the foreign and defence ministers on 29 January, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans made it clear that the humanitarian consequences statements (NPT and UNGA First Committee) are pushing the government further than where NATO will allow them to go. He followed that up by saying he would rather push for a change in NATO agreements than stop these processes from continuing. This is another in a series of positive statements by the minister, unfortunately though, they are rarely followed up by positive actions.

During the debate a series of other issues came to light. The Government asked for proof that the B61 modernisation process will add new capabilities to these weapons (despite testimony of Hans Kristensen from the Federation of American Scientists to the chamber on Monday), and the Socialist Party asked the Minister of Defence what she will do to make sure the new Joint Strike Fighters have no nuclear task (she had no answer).

Importantly though, the Dutch Foreign Minister made it clear that he is willing to push for changes both inside NATO and outside. However, in recent weeks, policy statements from the government have denied the majority resolution of the parliament demanding that new fighter planes not have a nuclear task, and have insisted that there is no possibility for action without NATO consensus and unanimity. The Minister did however deliver a final statement noting that the most important task for our generation is to say goodbye to nukes, but actions speak louder than words… to be continued.