Minister Timmermans maintains Cold War nuclear policy

Peace organization IKV Pax Christi is deeply disappointed by the nuclear weapons policy published today by Dutch Foreign Minister Timmermans. Jan Gruiters, director of IKV Pax Christi said: “Everything remains as it was, the Netherlands is pointing fingers at the U.S. and Russia to make the world free of nuclear weapons. The current NATO policy that allows the use of nuclear weapons remains unchanged. The logic of the Cold War still paralyzes politics.”

According to IKV Pax Christi, the policy of Minister Timmermans holds fast to the idea that the Cold War is still going on. He claims to seek a world without nuclear weapons but leaves any concrete measures to Russia and the United States. Timmermans ignores the independent Dutch responsibility for facilitating the ongoing presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe.

The Minister refuses to comment on the presence of nuclear weapons at the Dutch airbase Volkel and offers no concrete proposals to rid the Netherlands of nuclear weapons. The policy letter appears to ridicule the joint statement delivered by New Zealand on behalf of 125 UN members on Tuesday calling for nuclear weapons never to be used again, under any circumstances. Instead, the policy letter reinforces NATO’s claim that the use of nuclear weapons is legitimate.

Krista van Velzen, nuclear disarmament campaigner at IKV Pax Christi said: “As a Member of Parliament, Minister Timmermans was convinced that the U.S. nuclear weapons in Netherlands were useless and dangerous and should be sent back to the U.S. As Minister instead of putting these words into action, he remains silent on the 20 nuclear weapons at Volkel and ignores the will of the Parliament that these weapons should not be renewed.”

The policy is a huge missed opportunity, says Jan Gruiters, director of IKV Pax Christi .” The Netherlands could take action towards reaching a nuclear-weapons-free world by providing transparency about the presence of nuclear weapons in the Netherlands, and a roadmap for their elimination. Timmermans could take the lead, with the support of the Parliament, and make it clear that the arrival of new, or modernised nuclear bombs, is completely unacceptable. This could have been made clear in the Minister’s conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Instead of focusing on practical and pragmatic steps that could be taken by the Dutch government, the policy letter puts the onus on others.“

IKV Pax Christi does welcome the positive contribution that can be made, especially by the Minister’s attendance at the next Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative meeting in Hiroshima in April 2014, an opportunity for the minister to see with his own eyes the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.