Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Peace Activists Trespass at Belgian Base Housing U.S. Nukes
A number of antinuclear activists in late January were able to enter and pass through several outer defenses of a Belgian military base widely suspected of housing U.S. nuclear weapons, the Federation of American Scientists said (see GSN, Oct. 16, 2009).
Members of the peace group Vredesactie climbed over the exterior fence of the Kleine Brogel Air Base, crossed the runway, passed through another fence barrier and walked toward the heart of the military complex near the location where 10-20 nuclear warheads are believed to be located underground.
The activists were not stopped by guards until they had traveled nearly six-tenths of a mile and spent more than an hour alone at the installation.
"The activists will likely be charged with trespassing a military base but they should actually get a medal for having exposed security problems at Kleine Brogel," stated Hans Kristensen, director of the FAS Nuclear Information Project. He noted that the activists reported finding a hole in the fencing around what is believed to be the nuclear-storage site.
Approximately 200 U.S. nuclear weapons are thought to be housed in five European countries -- Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. They are thought to be the last remnant of the 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons the United States fielded throughout the continent at the height of the Cold War.
A 2008 U.S. Air Force analysis determined that the majority of European sites housing U.S. nuclear weapons were not up to U.S. security standards. A subsequent delegation dispatched by Congress to look into the report's allegations determined that security was up to par (Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists I, Feb. 4).
Responding to the incident, Belgian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Ingrid Baeck told Stars and Stripes that the activists came close only to "an empty bunker, a shelter."
"I can assure you these people never, ever got anywhere near a sensitive area," she said. "When you get close to sensitive areas, then it’s another cup of tea" (Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists II, Feb. 12).
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The submarine proliferation resource collection is designed to highlight global trends in the sale and acquisition of diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. It is structured on a country-by-country basis, with each country profile consisting of information on capabilities, imports and exports.