For decades Dutch Members of Parliament and others have asked the Dutch government for information about the US B61 nuclear bombs stationed on Dutch Airbase Volkel. The government has maintained a consistent policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of these weapons. Even when Former Ministers talked about it, the Dutch government, unlike the German, would not confirm this ‘public secret’. Therefore, it came as a great surprise when the US Air Force publicly announced that a Sergeant based at Volkel was to receive a ‘Nuclear Deterrence Operations Award’.
Since 2014 the US Airforce awards ‘outstanding nuclear professionals’ who ‘distinguished themselves amongst their peers while making a significant impact on nuclear deterrence operations”. This year the prize for the ‘Noncommissioned Officer of the Year’ went to a Staff Sergeant from the 703rd Munitions Support Squadron based on Dutch Airbase Volkel.
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok keeps repeating that he can neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons on Dutch soil, because of NATO-agreements. With this in mind, it is strange that the US Airforce can publicly award an Airman and thereby show that there are US nuclear bombs in the Netherlands. If the US Airforce can publicly give more information, why can Dutch Foreign Affairs minister Blok not? Apparently there is more room within the NATO-agreements than Minister Blok is suggesting.
Being more transparent gives parliamentarians the opportunity to carry out their democratic duties and check on the Dutch government. This is even more important now, because the US nuclear bombs will be modernized soon. If the situation stays as it is, this modernization will happen without the Dutch parliament having ever debated about it. Furthermore, more transparency would be an important first step in the removal of these dangerous weapons from Dutch soil. With this action the Dutch government will follow the opinion of a large part of the Dutch population and several motions adopted by the Dutch parliament.