Nuclear weapon are (still) in the Netherlands

The Dutch Parliament has debated it for decades. Former Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers confirmed it on TV (in 2013). And now, it’s been said again- there are nuclear bombs in the Netherlands.

This time, researcher Cees Wiebes went to court to try and get the documentation proving the bombs are here released. While he lost his case, the news media didn’t hesitate to report on the public secret most Dutch people already know.

What many Dutch don’t know, is that as of Friday, allowing these weapons of mass destruction to remain on Dutch soil will be prohibited under International Law.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons goes into full legal effect on 22 January. The treaty explicitly prohibits the hosting of nuclear weapons in any jurisdiction under the government’s control. This clarifies the long-term ambiguity about whether or not it’s okay to practice mass murder the weapons belonging to your ally – this makes those activities illegal.

As of now, the Dutch government hasn’t yet joined the treaty. That could change. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence made it very clear that there are no legal obstacles to joining the treaty- the decision is purely political. With elections soon coming, many political parties, in their March 2021 draft election programmes are calling on the government to join the nuclear weapons ban. And, like neighbouring Belgium, the new government might need to rethink its current position.

The newly published research of Cees Wiebes, and recently declassified US documentation illustrate the history of now nuclear weapons came to the Netherlands. It’s up to the people to decide where those weapons go from here.

18 January 2021