Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2019
Nukewatch and the German disarmament group Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, have organized a third delegation of US peace activists to the peace camp near Germany’s Büchel Air Base. In 2017, 2018 and again this summer, US peace activists will join the camp’s “International Week,” July 8 to 16, when disarmament campaigners from around the world convene there to confront US and German nuclear war preparations, and demand the ouster of US nuclear weapons from Germany.
The nationwide German coalition “Büchel Is Everywhere! Nuclear Weapons-Free Now!”—a “campaign council” of 68 groups and organizations—has worked for years to rid Germany of the 20 remaining US nuclear weapons, known as B61s, still deployed at the base, located about three hours west of Frankfurt. The coalition, which this year welcomed Nukewatch as its first international member group, demands that the government permanently remove the US nuclear weapons, reject the replacement of the bombs with the planned B61-version 12, and ratify the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons. At present, a classified “nuclear sharing” agreement allows the transfer of US nuclear weapons to Germany, where its Tornado fighter jet pilots threaten and train to drop the B61s if orders come from a US president.
This summer’s delegation includes Brian Terrell, of Maloy, Iowa, representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence; Col. Ann Wright (USAF Ret.) of Veterans For Peace, Hawaii; Cee’Cee’ Anderson, from College Park, Georgia for Women’s Action for New Directions and the watchdog group Alliance for Nuclear Accountability; Susan Crane from the Redwood City Calif. Catholic Worker; Andrew Lanier, Jr., from the San Jose, Calif. Catholic Worker; Ralph Hutchison, Kevin Collins & Cindy Collins, all from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in Knoxville, Tennessee; Richard Bishop from the Missoula Montana Catholic Worker; and Fred Galluccio from Physicians for Social Responsibility in Orange County, California.
Spring “Go-In” Action Sees 17 Nuclear Resisters Defy Air Base’s New Fence
Seventeen peace activists acting in two groups conducted a “go-in” protest April 30th at the base, near the city of Cochem, Germany. The nonviolent action was part of a long-running series of civil protests against the deployment and threatened use of at least 20 US nuclear gravity bombs at the German base. Part of the group of 17 dug under the newly erected second perimeter fence and occupied the space between the two barriers. A second group clipped through both fences and were met inside by German military security personnel.
The April action was the first major civil resistance at the base since authorities, over the winter, constructed the additional 16-kilometer fence around the base. Two fences now enclose the hilltop airport and fighter jet runway, bunkers for the nuclear weapons and jets, base housing, grammar school, and assorted infrastructure facilities.
Most of the 17 activists had participated in previous go-in actions at the base, and all of them were released after being issued “stay away” orders warning them to keep 200 meters distant from the fence line for 24 hours.
This year has seen an increase in court actions taken against the frequent resisters who have occupied the base. Court letters demanding civil forfeitures have been mailed to two dozen of the 70 people who cut or climbed into the base last year. The letters, arriving just before a statute of limitations deadline, can and have been contested by the abolitionists, who are later told to appear for trial.
Over the years, several intrepid resisters have been jailed for short periods for refusing to pay court-ordered fines. The judicial authorities light hand in charging political protesters is in stark contrast to US courts that charge multiple felonies and impose long prison terms for practically identical actions.
Air Force Websites Confirm Open Secret: US Nuclear Weapons Deployed in Germany
US and German military officials never officially admit in public that US nuclear weapons are deployed at the Büchel Air Base. The policy of “neither confirming nor denying” the location of nuclear weapons is a general one common to all nuclear-armed branches of the military. However, the Büchel Air Base website says it is home to the US Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron or MUNSS. The website also declares that the 702nd is “responsible for ownership, custody, maintenance, and release of a protection level 1 stockpile…” (Emphasis added.)
A “protection level 1 stockpile” is air force jargon for a stash of nuclear weapons, as its own open source documents show. The Shaw Air Force Base Instruction 31-102 6, of Dec. 6, 2012, is an Air Force instruction manual available online that openly defines protection level 1 (PL 1). In instruction 4.7.1., it says, “Examples of PL 1 resources include nuclear weapons and … systems critical to the success of active nuclear missions…”