A delegation of U.S. peace activists will travel to The Netherlands and Germany this August to join international nuclear weapons protests focused on removing the U.S. nuclear weapons still stationed at the Netherlands’ Volkel Air Base, 85 miles south of Amsterdam, and at Germany’s Büchel Air Force Base, southeast of Cologne. The group of 11 anti-nuclear activists hail from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New York.
Both the Volkel and Büchel Air Bases each maintain approximately 15-to-20 U.S. hydrogen bombs known as B61s* as part of NATO’s so-called “nuclear sharing” program in which foreign fighter jets and their pilots routinely rehearse attacks on Russia using the U.S. H-bombs. Alarmingly, in the midst of the ongoing war in Ukraine, operation “Air Defender 2023,” NATO’s largest-ever nuclear attack exercise, ran from June 14 to 23 in the skies over Germany. War planes involved in the practice included U.S. F-35s, F-15s and F-16s from the U.S., Turkey and Greece; Eurofighters from Spain and the U.K.; German Tornadoes; U.S. and Finnish F/A-18s; Hungarian Gripens; and U.S. A-10 ground-attack jets, according to CNN. The A-10 jets fire the controversially toxic and radioactive shells known as depleted uranium munitions.
Coordinated by the Amsterdam Catholic Worker community, Peace Camp Volkel runs from August 4 to 10 and is focused on “climate and a future without nuclear weapons.” Participants from around Europe and the United States will conduct nonviolence trainings, and blockades, “go-in” actions, and other protests. On 10 August, the U.S. activists will travel from Volkel to Kail, Germany for four days of protest actions directed at the Büchel Air Force Base, which like Volkel is now undergoing major construction in preparation for the delivery of replacement weapons, the new B61-12 gravity bomb, now in production in the United States.
Most of the U.S. delegates to the two peace camps have worked for years in anti-war and disarmament campaigns, and several have been imprisoned in the United States for nonviolent actions taken against the war system. Ellen Grady, from Ithaca, New York and a member of the delegation said, “We have to take some responsibility for these U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in Europe, because they threaten genocidal violence and they destabilize the reckless and expanding war in Ukraine.”
The eleven U.S. participants are: JACKIE ALLEN, of Hartford, Conn.; VERA ANDERSON, 35, from New York, NY; MARK COLVILLE from New Haven, Conn.; SUSAN CRANE, 75, from Redwood City, Calif.; DENNIS DuVALL, 81, from Radeberg, Germany (formerly of Prescott, Ariz.); JENN GALLER, 27, of Baltimore, MD; ELLEN GRADY, 60, from Ithaca, New York; THEO KAYSER, 33, of St Louis, Missouri; ERIC MARTIN 38, of Los Angeles, Calif.; SUSAN SCHALLER, 69, of Boston, Mass.; and BRIAN TERRELL, 67, of Maloy, Iowa.
Previous international camps involving “go-in” actions at the Büchel base have resulted in trespass charges and series of court trials and appeals in which resisters have attempted to put “nuclear sharing” on trial. The opponents argue that the defense of “crime prevention” excuses their actions in view of the 1970 Nonproliferation Treaty which forbids any transfer of nuclear weapons between treaty signers including the U.S., The Netherlands and Germany. Among this year’s delegates, Ms. Crane will in September be the 5th nuclear resister to appeal from Germany to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasberg regarding alleged errors by German courts which have refused to consider defense arguments offered by the resisters. The European Court has yet to decide on any of the previous appeals. [Biographies of the U.S. participants are available upon request.]
* De Morgen (Antwerp), July 16, 2019, https://www.demorgen.be/nieuws/eindelijk-zwart-op-wit-er-liggen-amerikaanse-kernwapens-in-belgie~b051dc18/ (De Morgen obtained and published a leaked official NATO report detailing the locations and numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons currently stationed in five NATO states.)