04:45 GMT25 January 2021
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    While Russia is eradicating the terrorist threat in the Middle East, the US and NATO are busy with modernizing their European nuclear arms aimed at some unknown menace and pressuring the EU, particularly Belgium, into spending more on US weaponry, founder of Agora Erasmus movement Karel Vereycken told Sputnik.

    It is naïve to believe that the Obama administration, lambasted by both right and left-wing parties in the US for its inconsistent policy in the Middle East, is perplexed or distraught. Undoubtedly, it has a well-thought-out foreign strategy and Europe is one of its targets.

    In his earlier interviews to Sputnik, Karel Vereycken, journalist, founder of the Belgian political organization Agora Erasmus and editor-at-large of the French newspaper Nouvelle Solidarité, called attention to the fact that the Pentagon and NATO are pushing ahead with the project of re-nuclearization of Europe.

    The Pentagon aims to deliver its upgraded B61-12 thermo-nuclear warheads to Europe, as well as its new and much-talked-about the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

    Karel Vereycken told Sputnik that NATO and the Obama administration is currently pressuring Belgium into increasing its military spending.

    Meanwhile, Vereycken pointed out, on October 7, over a hundred thousand unionized Belgian workers took the streets in Brussels to protest austerity policies destroying their country.

    "But for the international war party, time has come for Belgium to increase its military spending," the journalist underscored.

    "True, today, military spending represents only less than 0.9 percent of Belgian GDP, while NATO members commit themselves to spend at least 2 percent. The real worry for Washington is the fact that, with the current budget, it is hard to think Belgium could come up with an extra 4 billion euros to buy 40 new US-built F-35 airplanes required to operate the upgraded version of the US atomic weapons (B61-12) to replace those already stationed on Belgian soil," Vereycken emphasized.

    Needless to say, US policy-makers and their subservient European allies justify the current military buildup in Europe by an imaginary menace, allegedly posed by Russia.

    Vereycken quoted Denise Campbell Bauer, the US Ambassador to Belgium, who wrote in his op-ed published by the Belgian conservative daily La Libre Belgique on September 30: "In the East, Russia has tried to redraw the borders of Europe by force by trying to annex Crimea and via destabilizing actions including Russian troop deployments in Eastern Ukraine."

    Therefore, according to the US Ambassador, Belgium should immediately increase its spending on defense (and fork out for Washington's extortionately expensive F-35 jets).

    "This unprecedented offensive of the US ambassador somehow comes as an answer to the petition launched early September by Agora Erasmus. Signed by over a dozen of prominent members of Parliament, the petition calls on the US to withdraw the nuclear weapons from Belgian soil rather than modernizing them," the journalist stressed.

    Meanwhile, the Pentagon is not twiddling its thumbs: citing the Flemish papers De Morgen and Het Laatste Nieuws, Vereycken pointed out that "the US itself is already spending 1.5 million dollars to build 11 bunkers and a new command center to modernize the Belgian airbase of Klein Brogel, where some 20 nuclear warheads are stationed."

    Furthermore, the Agora Erasmus founder pointed to the fact, that airplanes of the five European NATO members — Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey — and the US, reportedly participated in the annual military exercise "Steadfast Noon" aimed at dropping tactical nuclear weapons. The joint drills have been carried out in Büchel, Germany, this week.

    "The Belgian peace movement 'Vredesactie' ("peace action") declared ‘this shows that the nuclear weapons stationed in Europe are not mere relicts of the cold war, but their use is still actively prepared. While in reality, these tactical nuclear weapons have lost any military role.' Since nuclear weapons don't discriminate between civilians and military, "preparing their use is tantamount to preparing war crimes," says the movement," Vereycken elaborated.

    NATO efforts aimed at nuclearization of Europe have prompted a wave of protests in the EU.

    Vereycken narrated that the Dutch peace movement PAX, with the backing of the Dutch Red Cross, delivered almost 45,000 signatures to members of Parliament pleading in favor of a total ban on nuclear weapons.

    Lyndon LaRouche associated Belgian Agora Erasmus has drawn up a petition against the modernization of NATO's nuclear weaponry in Europe. The initiative has brought together politicians from various political parties including SP.A (Flemish socialists), Groen (Green Party), the PS (Parti Socialiste in Wallonia) and others.


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