For the second time in two years, a delegation of US peace activists* will participate in protests at the Büchel Air Base in the center-west part of Germany, July 10 to 18, 2018 demanding the withdrawal of the 20 remaining US H-bombs still deployed there.
The eight US activists — from Wisconsin, California, New York, Missouri, Georgia and Arizona — will join the coalition of 50 German peace groups and organizations converging on the air base. The delegation has been organized by Nukewatch, the peace and environmental group based in Luck, Wisc., in conjunction with a 50-group coalition of German peace organizations called “Büchel is Everywhere: Nuclear Weapons-Free Now!”
The target of the protests is the controversial policy of placing nuclear weapons in other countries, and expensive US plans to replace the bombs instead of withdrawing them. The US is the only country in the world that arms other countries with its nuclear weapons. Under a program called “nuclear sharing,” Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and The Netherlands still deploy a total of 150 Cold War-era US nuclear weapons.** Critics point out that all five countries are parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which explicitly prohibits nuclear weapons from being transferred to or accepted from other countries.
This past March 26, activists in Germany launched a 20-week-long series of nonviolent protests — “Twenty Weeks for Twenty Bombs” — to rid Germany of the remaining 20 US Air Force nuclear gravity bombs known as B61s. The protests continue through August 9, the anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. The US peace delegation will join International Week, July 10 to 18, along with activists from Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Germany and elsewhere. (Last year’s US delegation joined other nuclear weapons opponents from as far away as China, Mexico, and Russia.)
“The world wants nuclear weapons abolished,” said US delegate Bonnie Urfer, a long-time peace activist and former staffer with the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch, in Luck, Wisconsin. “To waste billions of dollars replacing them with new ones is outrageous considering how many millions are in poverty or in need disaster relief, emergency shelter, and safe drinking water,” Urfer said. Urfer has spent 6-and-1/2 years incarcerated over the last 30 years for misdemeanor-level protests she calls “civil resistance” against war, nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
The US delegation and the German public object to US plans to produce 480 new hydrogen bombs — dubbed the “B61-12” — to replace the 150 now deployed across Europe (including the 20 at Büchel Air Base).
“Our united resistance will stop the new, illegal nuclear bombs nobody needs,” said Marion Küpker, a disarmament campaigner with Büchel Is Everywhere. “We want Germany to be nuclear weapons-free,” she said.
A huge majority of the German public supports the UN treaty ban and the removal of the US nuclear weapons from its territory. According to a March 2016 poll, a whopping 93% want nuclear weapons banned; 85% agreed that the US weapons should be permanently ousted from Germany; and 88% said they oppose US plans to replace the current H-bombs with the new “B61-12.”
*The delegation includes: CEECEE ANDERSON from Atlanta Georgia; SUSAN CRANE, of Redwood City, California; ANTHONY DONOVAN of New York, NY; DENNIS DUVAL from Prescott, Arizona; ANN SUELLENTROP of Kansas City, Missouri; VICTOR WHITE, of Oceanside, California; and BONNIE URFER and JOHN LaFORGE, both with Nukewatch, in Luck, Wisconsin.
**United States nuclear forces, 2018, tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2018.1438219