By John LaForge, World BEYOND War, April 23, 2023
You have to hand it to Dennis DuVall. At age 81, he’s on the cutting edge of the hottest of political and military issues — nuclear weapons — and has put life and limb on the right side of history.
On March 23, DuVall began a 60-day prison sentence in Germany for refusing to pay fines for nonviolent interference with the lawless stationing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Deutschland, at the Büchel air base. (U.S. H-bombs are also ‘forward deployed’ in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey.)
DuVall recently wrote a ‘Büchel Manifesto’ where he says: ‘Nonviolent direct actions at Büchel NATO base … intended to stop, prevent, or disrupt German Tornado pilots of the 33rd Fighter-Bomber Wing and the U.S. Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron from training to drop B61 thermonuclear bombs on targets in Russia.’
Now, with renewed alarm over the nuclear threats due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, DuVall is shining a spotlight on the risk escalation posed by the United States and NATO. It’s not just Russia that’s ratcheted up the chances of nuclear weapons’ use. It was German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock who blurted out Jan. 24 in Strasbourg, France, ‘We are fighting a war against Russia …’ While accurate, in that Germany is sending significant warmaking materiel to Ukraine, a high German official essentially declaring war on Russia is hardly wise or adaptive.
Two days after DuVall entered Bautzen prison, east of Dresden, Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced plans to station Russian nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, causing a loud if hypocritical reaction from the U.S. and NATO. Overnight, the imprisonment of a long-time Veteran for Peace and Air Force veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam looked like a bellwether for a long-overdue debate on U.S. nukes stationed in Europe, because Putin said his March 25 announcement was a tit-for-tat.
According to Newsweek, ‘“… the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” said Putin.’ Then, after French President Macron declared, ‘In no case can nuclear weapons be deployed outside the territory of nuclear power, especially in Europe,’ the Russian Foreign Ministry asked with a smirk: ‘Is Paris’ demands ‘not to deploy nuclear weapons on foreign territory’ addressed to Washington?’ according to Hindustan Times.
Germany’s branch of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms joined the debate March 29 noting in a press release, “Nuclear sharing violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the human right to life.”
Andrea Sasse of the German foreign ministry described Russian but not NATO’s nuclear sharing as “irresponsible,” “escalatory,” and “another attempt at nuclear intimidation,” the Guardian reported March 27. Germany’s hypocrisy is rich. Just last August, its UN Ambassador Thomas Göbel declared to the General Assembly in writing: “NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements, which include U.S. nuclear weapons forward-deployed in Europe and Dual-Capable Aircraft provided by a number of European Allies, continue to be, fully consistent and compliant with the NPT.”
With tongue firmly in cheek, Putin’s announcement used the same falsehood as Ambassador Göbel, and claimed that nuclear sharing could be done “without in any way violating our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
The Pentagon’s frightening comment included a veiled reminder of the threat posed by its H-bombs in Europe: ‘“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture”, the U.S. Defense Department said’, Reuters reported March 26. It’s worth recalling that General Tod Wolters, head of U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, testified to the Senate Feb. 25, 2020: “I’m a fan of flexible [nuclear weapons] first-use policy.”
In his obscure cell in Bautzen, DuVall is doing time for acting as if the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are the dispositive global laws, since they are. He’s a crime fighter for interfering with NATO’s plans for initiating nuclear attacks. He can take some credit for the fact that “sharing” of U.S. B61 H-bomb’s, and “strategic” threats to use them, are in the news more than ever before.
John LaForge, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and is co-editor with Arianne Peterson of Nuclear Heartland, Revised: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States.