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An update on parliamentary work on nuclear weapons in Belgium.

Compiled by Hans Lammerant

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During the last months the Belgian Senate confirmed in two resolutions
its will to get rid of the US nuclear weapons in Europe, as it expressed
earlier in a resolution concerning non-proliferation and nuclear
disarmament policy on 21st April 2005 (original in Dutch and French:
translation in English:

1. On the Senate voted a resolution on NATO and the upcoming Riga
summit. It refered to its earlier resolution on non-proliferation and
nuclear disarmament policy and repeated the most important language
concerning NATO, leaving away the confusing mentioning of the
NATO-Russia Council.
Original document in Dutch and French:
http://www.senate.be/wwwcgi/get_pdf?50335464 or
(Warning: this is a long document with the reports of the different
hearings, the resolution itself is at the end of the document)

"The Senate
R. notes that the gradual withdrawal of the American tactical nuclear
weapons from Europe and the non-renewal of European aircrafts with
double capacity can be investigated;
S. reminds the resolution concerning non-proliferation and nuclear
disarmament policy (doc. Senate, n° 3-985/5);
Ask the government
7. to propose initiatives in NATO concerning:
- the review of strategic doctrines concerning nuclear weapons;
- the gradual withdrawal of the American tactical nuclear weapons from
Europe as
fulfillment of Article 6 of the NPT;

2. On 21st December 2006 the Senate voted a resolution 'concerning the
presence of Belgium in the UN Security Council as non-permanent member
from 1 January 2007 till 31 December 2008'. It contains strong language
on nuclear weapons and asks again the Belgian government to question
expressly the presence of US nuclear weapons in Belgium.
Original document in French and Dutch:
http://www.senate.be/wwwcgi/get_pdf?50335673 or

"The Senate
Asks the federal government to use her chair as non-permanent member of
the Security Council during the period of 1 January 2007 till 31
December 2008 to put the following recommendations in practice:
2) Promotion of peace
a. concerning disarmament
— concerning the struggle against the proliferation of nuclear weapons,
to guard that every serious violation of international obligations is
not left without consequences by the Security Council; on this issue to
support the principle of automatic sanctioning in case of violations of
either the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as the disarmament
obligation from article IV NPT, and to support or take itself
initiatives concerning non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament to
assure that the Security Council takes responsibility for violations of
the NPT; lastly to plead in favor of the elimination of nuclear weapons
and the prohibition of nuclear weapon tests and that problems concerning
nuclear weapons and non-proliferation have to be treated with diplomatic
means and not by the use of force.
— to plead that the amount of nuclear weapons gets reduced to the lowest
possible level with as final aim a total and controlable disarmament; to
promote the universal ratification of the CTBT and in first instance by
the 44 states needed for its entry into force; to plead in the meanwhile
that the CTBT is put into practice to sustain the existing moratorium on
nuclear testing; to encourage negotiations and the fast approval of a
treaty prohibiting the production of fissile material and to promote in
the meanwhile the securisation of the fissile material stocks;
— to make sure that the Security Council discusses general questions
concerning the struggle against the proliferation of nuclear weapons,
leading to the creation of a working group investigating the approach of
the Council and which can serve as forum for proposals for a more
efficient struggle;
— to guard that the nuclear weapon states fulfill their obligation under
international law to eliminate their nuclear weapons;
— to take a more critical position towards the nuclear weapon states by
questioning expressly the presence of US nuclear weapons in Belgium and
to oppose other recent evolutions like the recent deal between the US
and India which is explicitly in violation with the NPT and the NSG
(Nuclear Suppliers Group);
— to guard that the measures of resolution 1540 concerning the
prevention of the trade in nuclear materials and possible means of
delivery of nuclear weapons, adopted by the Security Council on 28th
April 2004, are put into practice as fast as possible;

To avoid too optimistic conclusions, a clarification of the status of
these documents:
These are non-binding resolutions and its effect on the actual
government policy is in practice low. But they are an expression of the
political opinion of the parliamentarians. Since they are adopted by all
political parties except the fascist party (Vlaams Belang), they
expressed the broad political consensus in Belgium against the continued
presence of the US nuclear weapons in Europe. As such they are important
as they show that the earlier resolutions were not an 'accident de
parcours', but that this opinion is regularly expressed and sustained.
On the other hand there is a clear resistance from the government to act
according to these resolutions. This is also visible in proposed but not
accepted amendments by members of the same party as the minister of
Foreign Affairs, which try to soften or eliminate the language on
nuclear weapons. In the end also the liberal and christian democrats
vote for these resolutions, but the nuclear weapon language is clearly
not supported by the whole party (nor opposed).
Coming May there will be elections in Belgium. The moment of truth will
be the conclusion of a new government agreement after the elections and
what language on nuclear weapons it will contain.