For the first time in a long-standing campaign to remove US nuclear weapons from Germany, a delegation of US peace activists will participate in protests at the Büchel Air Base, in west-central Germany, July 12 to 18, demanding the withdrawal of the last 20 US H-bombs still deployed there. Notable among the 11-person delegation are seven participants who have served a combined total of 36 years in US jails and prisons for protest actions taken against nuclear weapons programs and the war system.
The eleven US activists* — from California, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington-DC — will join the coalition of 50 German peace and justice groups and organizations converging on the air base.
This past March 26, activists in Germany launched a 20-week-long series of nonviolent protests to rid Büchel of the US B61 nuclear-armed gravity bombs. The actions continue through August 9, the anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. The US delegation will join the International Week, July 12 to 18, along with peace activists from Belgium, The Netherlands, and France, as well as Germany.
“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 Wisconsin. “To waste billions of dollars replacing the B61s when they should be scrapped is criminal considering how many millions are in need famine relief, emergency shelter, and safe drinking water,” Urfer said. Urfer has spent 6 and 1/2 years incarcerated
for a string of misdemeanor-level protests she calls “civil resistance” against war, nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
The US delegation and the German public is particularly concerned that the US is planning to produce 480 new hydrogen bombs — the so-called “B61-12”— to replace the 180 B61 bombs now deployed in five European NATO countries including the 20 at Büchel. Production is not expected to start before 2022. Overall cost of the new bomb, which is not yet in production, is estimated to be up to $12 billion.
“Our united resistance will stop the new, illegal nuclear bombs nobody needs,” said Marion Küpker, a disarmament campaigner and organizer with DFG-VK, Germany’s oldest peace organization, this year celebrating its 125th anniversary. “We want Germany to be nuclear weapons-free,” Küpker said.
Under a scheme known as “nuclear sharing,” Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and The Netherlands still deploy a total of about 180 US B61 H-bombs and conduct NATO nuclear war maneuvers using them, although all five states are parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Articles I and II of the treaty explicitly prohibit nuclear weapons from being either transferred to or accepted from other countries. The US is the only country in the world that arms other countries with its nuclear weapons. (The US also “leases” dozens of submarine-launched nuclear-armed Trident missiles to the British
Although the planned B61-12 has been called a new weapon, the Pentagon says the program is “modernization” of existing B61s in order to skirt the NPT’s prohibitions.
The March 26 start date of “Twenty Weeks for Twenty Bombs” is doubly significant for Germans. On March 26, 2010, Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, voted overwhelmingly to have the government work to permanently remove the nuclear weapons from Germany. And on March 27 this year, the United Nations General Assembly in New York launched formal negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. These talks are set to be completed and the treaty agreed on July 7.
*The delegation includes: Steve Baggarly, Norfolk, VA; Kathy Boylan, Washington, DC; Zara Brown, Minneapolis, MN; Susan Crane, Redwood City, CA; Ralph Hutchison, and Carmella Cole, both of Knoxville, TN; Sr. Carol Gilbert, O.P. and Sr. Ardeth Platte, O.P., both of Baltimore, MD; Leona Morgan, Albuquerque, NM; and Bonnie Urfer and John LaForge, both of Luck, WI.
For more information, contact John LaForge: firstname.lastname@example.org;
715-491-3813; or Marion Küpker (Germany) email@example.com +49 (0)172 771 32
66. *Detailed information about the US delegation to Büchel: