Nonviolent Activists Blockade German Base with 20 US B-61 Nuclear Bombers
August 6, 2014
Xanthe Hall / IPPNW Deutschland & No Nukes / The Netherlands & Cordula Meyer and Alexander Szandar / Der Spiegel
In Germany, as in the Netherlands, an air force base hosts 20 American B-61 bombers equipped with nuclear weapons. The German government has requested that they be removed but they are still at Büchel. President Obama has ordered $1 billion worth of new "modernized" nuclear weapons for deployment in Europe. On the anniversary of the US atomic bombings of two Japanese cities, nonviolent protesters in Germany have blocked all the gates at the facility.
Special to Environmentalists Against War
Büchel Nuclear Base Blockaded
Xanthe Hall / IPPNW Deutschland
BERLIN (August 5, 2014) – Hallo:
Since 6am this morning, the three most important gates at Büchel Nuclear Base (Main Gate, Luzerather Gate and Gate 1) have been closed by a group of young activists. This is part of a week of action at the base -- including fasting – set to last from August 2nd to 11th.
Taking part are the Youth Network for Political Action (JunepA), who initiated today's action, the "Peace Riders,",Motorcyclists against the Bomb and musicians from the group "Lebenslaute" (Sounds of Life) who played at last year's 24 hour music blockade.
Currently playing at the main gate is Stefan Charisius with his Kora instrument, that some of you might remember from last year's action when the beautiful giant Dundu doll danced and leapt over the main gate.
Follow @nuclearfreede for the latest news. Pictures here: http://www.buechel-atomwaffenfrei.de/aktuell/
Xanthe Hall, Disarmament Campaigner
IPPNW Deutschland | IPPNW Germany
Tel: +49-30-698074-12. Fax: +49-30-6938166
ippnw.de | atomwaffenfrei.de | atomwaffenA-Z.info
Succesful Nonviolent Blockade at
US Nuclear Weapon Base in Buchel
No Nukes / The Netherlands & AtomWaffenFrei
(August 5, 2014) -- Today a group from IKV Pax Christi is joining the blockade of the German military base Büchel that hosts US nuclear weapons. Every gate of the base has been blocked since 11.55 this morning by nonviolent activists from all over the world. Every gate is supporting the "Rhythm Beats Bombs" message with musical performances.
Krista van Velzen, nuclear disarmament campaigner at IKV Pax Christi: "We join this 24 hour long blockade to show solidarity with the German peace movement. Just as in the Netherlands, Germany hosts 20 American B-61 nuclear weapons at the air base.
"Although the German government said they wanted to send them back, they are still at Büchel. This is the reason why it is necessary to protest. The nuclear weapons in Germany will be modernized in the upcoming years, just like the weapons at Volkel (The Netherlands). This modernization costs more than 1 billion dollars, which means that these nuclear weapons will cost more than their weight in gold."
The IKV Pax Christi peace activists handed out cheese at the blockade. Benthe van de Pol explained: "'Cheese not nukes' is our message. Of course it is a joke, but with a serious undertone. It is bizarre that plans are being made to place new nuclear weapons in Germany and The Netherlands."
Bomspotting (January 31, 2010)
Nuclear Disarmament Now!
US Nuclear Bombs in Europe
Berlin Holds onto Obsolete Weapons
Cordula Meyer and Alexander Szandar / Der Spiegel
BERLIN (July 1, 2008) -- The US still has dozens of nuclear war heads stationed throughout Europe, including an estimated 20 in Germany. Yet, hardly anyone thinks this makes sense any more -- apart from those at Germany's Defense Ministry.
Thomas Kossendey, Germany's deputy defense minister, usually has a broad smile on his face when he walks up to speak at the lectern in the Bundestag, the German parliament's lower house. Kossendey is the kind of politician who likes to add a dash of irony to his parliamentary contributions.
Last Wednesday, however, he was in no mood for jokes. As members of parliament debated the stationing of US nuclear weapons in Germany, he seemed somewhat tormented and made sure to stick strictly to his script.
The member of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) knew that there was little support for his position -- that US nuclear weapons should remain in Germany. Indeed, apart from the backing of some members of his own party, he encountered widespread opposition -- even from the CDU's coalition partner the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
There are around 20 American B-61 nuclear bombs still left in Germany. They are kept at the German Air Force base of the 33rd Fighter Bomber Squadron, near the village of Büchel in the south-western state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Nineteen years after the end of the Cold War German Tornado fighter jet pilots still practice dropping the weapons -- which have 10 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb -- over enemy territory.
The bombs seem like a military anachronism, a relic from the era of East-West confrontation. In those days thousands of nuclear war heads were stationed in Germany, with the German military supplied the means of delivery, such as missiles, airplanes and ordnance as part of so-called "Nuclear Sharing." The concept was developed by NATO as a way of involving member states without their own nuclear weapons in planning for the use of the bombs.
After 1990 as former enemies suddenly became allies and partners, the US pulled most of its nuclear weapons out of Europe. "The situations in which one would consider the use of nuclear weapons have become extremely remote," the German government said last week in response to an enquiry by the Green Party.
Only the handful of bombs based near the village of Büchel remains. And they are here to stay, according to Germany's defense minister, Franz Josef Jung. His deputy Kossendey said those who demanded their removal called into question a "core element of the Atlantic alliance," robbed Germany of its "right to have a say" and wanted "in the end to permanently weaken the relationship between Europe and North America."
A NATO Nuclear Stalemate
Yet, top military experts at NATO headquarters in Brussels and Berlin's Defense Ministry believe the weapons are redundant. Even Washington believes the bombs are no longer required. US President George W. Bush, hardly a supporter of disarmament, let old storage sites be emptied: Four years ago, for example, the American Air Force removed its nuclear weapons from the Ramstein air base in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
According to Washington-based arms expert Hans Kristensen, 110 US nuclear weapons have also been removed from the British base at Lakenheath. Hence, US nuclear bombs are now only stored in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey -- and, of course, in Germany.
Most of these remaining depots no longer meet US Defense Department security standards, according to a report compiled by a group of experts and published by Kristensen. The report sparked a debate in the Bundestag after SPIEGEL ONLINE recently quoted from it.
The removal of nuclear weapons is likely to receive a further boost in the near future: In a rare example of unity, the two candidates vying for the US presidency, the Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are both in favor of negotiating with Russia on the issue. McCain has expressly stated that he wants to "explore ways we and Russia can reduce -- and hopefully eliminate -- deployments of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe."
For Kurt Beck, the head of the center-left SPD, that is grist to the mill. Beck, who is also governor of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, has argued for years that the bombs had to go. In 2005 the then SPD Defense Minister Peter Struck actually wanted to raise the issue with NATO. But his boss Chancellor Gerhard Schröder held him back: After the fall out with Bush over the Iraq war, Schröder did not want to provoke another dispute.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington Arms Control Association, thinks NATO is in a nuclear stalemate. "The allies in Europe think the US would be offended if they no longer wanted the bombs, and the US won't touch the issue, because they think they would offend the Europeans."
According to Kossendey, Berlin no longer has any particular say in the matter: The Nuclear Planning Group, which once consisted only of countries where nuclear weapons were stationed, now includes all NATO members, apart from France. Canada, Greece and Turkey gave up "nuclear sharing" a few years ago, yet they still have an equal say.
"Nuclear sharing" is "slowly going to wither away," the US defense policy analyst Jeffrey A. Larsen wrote in a study for NATO. Its silent death was "foreseeable," as Europe's aging bombers will soon be decommissioned.
At least, that is what the SPD is hoping for. From 2013 the Eurofighter, which is unsuitable for carrying nuclear weapons, will replace the Tornado fighter jets. "Then nuclear sharing is over," German security expert Hans-Peter Bartels says.
However, Defense Minister Jung has other plans. Even after the switch over to the Eurofighter he wants to keep several old Tornados in reserve for a possible nuclear war "at least until 2020." They will probably be stationed in the Bavarian air base at Lechfeld from which they could be jetted to Büchel to pick up the American bombs. Just as long as Barack Obama or John McCain has not already removed them.
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