Hidden in our Own Backyard


March 1, 2005 11:51 | by Kate Hudson

How the US has left Europe bristling with its illegal nuclear weaponry.

THE US administration continues to pursue its hostile hype against Iran. Only now, it seems that actions have been added to the endless rhetoric.

Recently, the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersch asserted that US special forces had been in Iran looking for supposed nuclear targets.

Last week, it was reported that US spy drones are flying over Iran, attempting to detect illegal nuclear activities. Either of these would be an extreme provocation to the Iranian government and they may be intended as such. Fortunately, no intemperate response has come from Tehran.

But to set these US activities in the world of reality, not warmongering fantasy, we need to remind ourselves what Mohammed El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said last week.

In an interview in The Washington Post, Mr El-Baradei stated again that there is no evidence to support the claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, neither as a result of inspections nor as a result of intelligence.

Russia has now become involved in the ongoing row, as President Putin has stated that he is convinced that Iran is not trying to build nuclear weapons.

Yet, while this dispute continues and the US administration again tries to make something out of nothing, we should also be aware of what the US is doing closer to home.

Last week, there was quite a bit of press coverage about the extent of the US nuclear weaponry that is littered across Europe under the guise of NATO-480 free-fall nuclear bombs.

Of these, 110 are located at the Lakenheath airbase in East Anglia, 150 are stationed at three bases across Germany, 90 in south-eastern Turkey, 90 in Italy and 20 each in Belgium and the Netherlands.

With the exception of Britain, which also has around 200 of its own nuclear weapons, these countries are non-nuclear weapons states.

This clearly breaches international law because the nuclear non-proliferation treaty prohibits a nuclear state from transferring nuclear weapons to a non-nuclear weapons state. Indeed, it prohibits a non-nuclear state from receiving such weapons.

But, while Iraq is bombed on trumped-up charges and Iran faces the same dangers, this illegal behaviour is brushed under the carpet and ignored.

While NATO has been out of the public spotlight recently, upstaged by the "coalition of the willing," we would do well to heed the dangers. This is a massively armed expansionist military alliance with a nuclear first-use policy. Who can say where these nuclear weapons will be used. Iran?

So, NATO is a major problem for peace campaigners in Europe. But so too is the proposed European constitution.

If adopted, it will clearly result in the increased militarisation of Europe, promoting improved military capabilities, for operations "based on military means" and the massive extension of the EU capacity for interventions.

Worryingly, the constitution only commits itself to the principles of the UN Charter, not to abiding by the specifics, which could leave the way open for non-UN mandated military interventions by the EU.

The last thing that we want is for the recent orientation by the US towards illegal interventions to be pursued by Europe and enshrined in a new constitution. So, when the US makes its belligerent statements about other countries, winding up the pressure about nuclear proliferation and treaty compliance, let's remember to look in our own backyard. Europe is bristling with illegal US nukes, and many of Europe's political leaders are eager to go down the path of European military interventionism. These are both issues that we need to expose and oppose.

CND is organising a conference dealing with all these issues in Manchester on Saturday March 5, entitled For a Europe of Peace. The conference is jointly organised with Le Mouvement de la Paix - the French peace movement and speakers and participants are coming from across Europe. Please join us, details are on our web site at http://www.cnduk.org

Kate Hudson is chairwoman of CND. This article first appeared in The Morning Star.

See also

Heather Wokusch - Bush Administration and WMD