The practice of Citizen Weapons Inspections has taken firm root in the Low Countries of Belgium and Holland, where U.S. nuclear weapons assigned to NATO are stored and plans for their use executed in violation of international law. Politicians, clergy, and writers have joined activists on regular forays into Kleine-Brogel (Belgium) and Volkel (Holland) air force bases to verify the alleged presence of these weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction.
At Volkel, small groups climbed and cut their way in to inspect the base repeatedly last October, and again in November and December. Two to five people were arrested each time, and some of the cases are already on appeal. On New Years Eve, one group found a separate site indicating it was under the authority of the squadron responsible for handling the nuclear weapons, and sat down there until military police found and arrested them.
Last March, six people climbed and occupied platforms at 60, 70 and 80 meters up the 100 meter communications tower at Volkel. Two came down due to acrophobia and cold, while the others remained for nine hours before descending to their arrest and an eventual fine for trespass.
An Easter action camp took place at the base April 1-5. Five people were arrested on Good Friday when they entered the base after being refused an inspection at the gate. Three more were arrested while inspecting the base that evening. On Saturday, some people tried to dig their way under the fence as a photo-op, but only three who began dismantling the fence were arrested. Overnight until Easter, more than half a dozen small groups were arrested across the base, some at the secured site located on New Year's Eve. Early Easter morning, two diggers were arrested, but a mass dig-in that evening resulted in no arrests. Diggers returned April 24 and four were quickly arrested.
In June, many of those arrested in October and February at Kleine-Brogel were asked to pay a fine to settle their case. Organizers encouraged all to refuse. Meanwhile, three members of the Belgian Parliament were summoned to criminal court for the same action, where they won a small victory. The magistrate declared that the case involved a political crime and thus requires a jury trial. Prosecutors are predicted to drop the charge rather than face a jury of Belgian citizens, the large majority of whom are known to oppose NATO nuclear weapons on their native soil.
About 170 people joined a group of 30 writers for a literary walk around Kleine-Brogel on September 5. Eighty were arrested when they entered the base at different points, attempting to inspect. Although he did not go into the base, the newly elected Minister of Culture (Green Party) helped some writers through the fence. "I want to give the new Minister of Defense the chance to give clear answers about the suspected deployment of U.S. weapons of mass-destruction in Belgium," said Bert Anciaux. "If we don't get an answer I feel compelled to go and look for the information myself by joining new Citizens Inspections." Other activists are planning Plowshares disarmament actions invoking international law at Kleine-Brogel.
The next round of international citizen weapons inspection actions is set on or near October 1, anniversary of the conclusion of the Nuremberg trials. For more information, see the contact information under Future Actions.