Is NATO`s exercise illegal? Preparation for use of the nuclear weapon violates international humanitarian law

Belgian peace activists hinder F16s from taking off for nuclear exercises
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Dr. Ian Davis (NATO Watch) published a press release from Vredesactie on the NW website.
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From 15-24 October, pilots of the Belgian Air Force will be conducting training exercises together with NATO-partners to prepare for the use of nuclear weapons. For this reason Belgian peace organizations went to the police to file a complaint. The use of nuclear weapons, and by extension also the active preparation for said use, violates international humanitarian law.
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Belgian F-16 airplanes based in Kleine Brogel will be participating in “Steadfast Noon”, a NATO exercise in Büchel (Germany). This is a training exercise for the deployment of nuclear weapons. All NATO countries having American nuclear weapons on their territory will be participating in this exercise (besides Belgium these are Germany, Italy, Holland and Turkey), while some other countries will play a supporting role.
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The use of nuclear weapons, and therefore by extension the active preparation for such use, violates international humanitarian law. For this reason, the Belgian peace organizations Vredesactie, Pax Christi Vlaanderen, Vrede vzw, Action pour la Paix and MIR-IRG went to the police in Brussels today. Together with Tom Sauer (professor of International Politics, University of Antwerp) they filed a complaint against participation in “Steadfast Noon”. This exercise is denounced as the preparation of war crimes.
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“The American nuclear weapons on the military base of Kleine Brogel are not just relics from the Cold War,” says Roel Stynen of Vredesactie. “This NATO exercise makes clear that the use of these weapons is being actively prepared. If these weapons no longer have any military use, as is claimed, then which scenarios are being practiced for?”
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Tom Sauer, professor of International Politics, also participated by filing a complaint: “The majority of the Belgian population wants to get rid of these nuclear weapons. These weapons are useless and dangerous. It is unacceptable that Belgian pilots are training for the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.”
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NATO prepares for war crimes
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The use of nuclear weapons and the preparation for such use violates international humanitarian law. In its ruling of 8 July 1996, the International Criminal Court pointed out the fundamental rules of engagement that apply to nuclear weapons.
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  • First of all, a distinction must be made between enemy combatants and civilians. Therefore the use of weapons that are incapable of making such a distinction is always prohibited.
  • Second, it is illegal to inflict needless suffering onto enemy combatants. Weapons that inflict such needless suffering can therefore not be used. The consequences of deploying nuclear weapons cannot be limited in space and time. The nuclear weapons on the base of Kleine Brogel can never be used without violating these elementary rules of engagement and without committing war crimes.
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Belgian criminal law also punishes acts of preparation, like in art. 136 sexies of the Criminal Code: “the keeping of such an object destined for such a crime, or which facilitates committing such a crime”. Participating in this exercise amounts to the active preparation for the use of nuclear weapons and therefore for war crimes. It also shows that the storage of nuclear weapons at the site of Kleine Brogel is part of such active preparations.
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The Belgian peace movement demands that the Belgian government itself strictly abide by international humanitarian law. This complaint is also a call to the judicial authorities to take their responsibility and to force the executive power to abide by international humanitarian law.
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Posted on October 17, 2012, in uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. JOHN/JANET PHILLIPS

    We totally deplore the making, holding and preparations for using nuclear weapons. Likewise we deplore the renewal/replacement of the Trident system in the UK. Furthermore we deplore the making and use of drones for offensive puposes and the support of UK goverrnments in allowiing their use, by America, on our territory or anywhere else in the world. The construction of these systems is endangering world peace and lining the pockets of the fat-cat warmongering profiteers with the connivance of our governments.

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