Netherlands and weapons of mass destruction

Netherlands and weapons of mass destruction

Although the Netherlands does not have weapons of mass destruction made by itself, the country participates in the NATO nuclear weapons sharing arrangements and trains for delivering U.S. nuclear weapons, i.e., it has weapons of mass destruction made by another country.

The Netherlands is also one of the producers of components that can be used for creating deadly agents, chemical weapons and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction. Several Dutch companies provided Iraq with components for these weapons during the 1980s.

The Netherlands ratified the Geneva Protocol on 31 October 1930. It also ratified the Biological Weapons Convention on 10 April 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention on 30 June 1995.


Uranium enrichment

The Urenco Group operates a uranium enrichment plant at Almelo to produce low-enriched uranium for use in nuclear power plants. The same plant could be used to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) for use in nuclear weapons. The Netherlands has not actually produced HEU, however; HEU for use in its Petten nuclear research reactor was imported from the U.S. In 2006 the reactor was converted to run on LEU.[1]

Urenco's enrichment technology may have been stolen by Abdul Qadeer Khan in the 1970s as the basis for Pakistan's nuclear enrichment program, which has resulted in Pakistan developing and testing nuclear weapons. See Pakistan and weapons of mass destruction.

United States-NATO nuclear weapons sharing

The Netherlands ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on 2 May 1975.

In the past (1960's till 1990's) the Netherlands took part in deployments of NATO nuclear artillery shells for its self-propelled howitzers and missile artillery units. These 8 inch shells and warheads for Honest John and later Lance missiles were stored at the special ammunition storages 't Harde and Havelterberg. They are not operational anymore.

USAFE Commander General Roger Brady being shown a disarming procedure on a dummy at Volkel Air Base.

Until 2006 Royal Netherlands Navy P-3 Orion aircraft and their predecessors the P-2 Neptunes, based at former Airbase Valkenburg near Leiden and Curaçao in the Caribbean were assigned U.S. Navy Nuclear Depth Bombs (NDB) for use in anti-submarine warfare. These weapons were originally the Mk 101 Lulu yielding 11 kT, and a later replacement the Mk-57 (also referred to as the B-57).

The NDBs were stored under U.S. Marine guard at RAF St. Mawgan, Cornwall, UK, with 60 similar weapons stored there for RAF Shackleton and Nimrod aircraft. The storage arrangements were agreed between the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and President Johnson in 1965 in a secret memorandum now declassified in the UK archives.

At present (2008) the USAF still provides 22 tactical B61 nuclear bombs for use by the Netherlands under the NATO nuclear weapons sharing agreement. These weapons are stored at Volkel Air Base and in time of war they may be delivered by Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 warplanes.[2]

Many countries[who?] believe this violates Articles I and II of the NPT, where the Netherlands has committed:[citation needed]

"... not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly ... or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices ...".

The U.S. insists its forces control the weapons and that no transfer of the nuclear bombs or control over them is intended "unless and until a decision were made to go to war, at which the [NPT] treaty would no longer be controlling", so there is no breach of the NPT.[3]

Dutch production of CW precursor chemicals

Alongside other companies from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, Belgium, Spain, India, and Brazil, Dutch companies provided Iraq with the chemicals used as precursors to produce chemical weapons for use against Iran in the Iran–Iraq War.

2000 Iranians who suffered from chemical warfare during the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) submitted an indictment some years ago with a Tehran court against nine companies that had provided Saddam Hussein with these chemicals. 455 American and European companies provided aid to Iraq during its war with Iran and two thirds of the companies were German. The United Nations published a 12,000-page report about the conflict and named the entire suite of companies involved.[citation needed]

Poison gas experiments

On February 20, 2008, it was revealed that the Netherlands had conducted chemical warfare experiments with nerve gas in the early 1950s. These experiments were conducted by the TNO organization, on request of the Defense Department. They consisted of the use of sarin, tabun, soman, and a modified French gas called Stof X (Substance X), which was more poisonous than sarin. The experiments were carried out on animals in the village of Harskamp and at the island Vlieland on the Vliehors bombing range.[4] After 1956, there were only experiments conducted jointly with France and Belgium in the desert of Algeria, which utilized 6 kilograms of Stof X. The reason behind these experiments was the fear of an attack by the Soviet Union.[5]


  1. ^ "HEU-LEU conversion reactor Petten completed" (Press release). NRG Communications. 2006-05-08. 
  2. ^ Kristensen, Hans (February 2005). "U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe" (PDF). 
  3. ^ Brian Donnelly, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Articles I, II and VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. Retrieved 2009-08-07 
  4. ^[594][detail_id]=193502
  5. ^ NRC newspaper, 20 feb. 2008


  • Norris, Robert S.; Andrew Burrows, Richard Fieldhouse (1994). Vol.5. British, French and Chinese Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear Weapons Databook. Oxford: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-1612-X. 
  • UK-U.S. Memorandum of Understanding of Use of Nuclear Weapons. 1965. DEFE 24/691-E28 , Contained in an exchange of letters between Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Pres Lyndon B.Johnson, declassified 2002, and now in the UK National Archives, London filed as DEFE 24/691-E28
  • To Dutch Navy weapons sharing and storage 
  • Radiator. Southern Region CND. April 1984 

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