Belgium

Nuclear-weapon endorser: hosts nuclear weapons on its territory

Hosts 20 US nuclear weapons

Has not yet joined the TPNW

Summary

Belgium has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It supports the retention and potential use of nuclear weapons on its behalf, as indicated by its endorsement of various alliance statements of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), of which it is a member.

 

Nuclear weapons in Belgium

Belgium is one of five NATO members to host US nuclear weapons on its territory as part of a nuclear-sharing agreement. The Belgian air force is assigned approximately 20 B61 nuclear bombs, which are deployed at Kleine Brogel Air Base.

 

National position

Belgium has consistently voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the treaty and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.

In explaining its vote on the resolution in December 2020, Belgium said that the treaty “could give new impetus to multilateral nuclear disarmament, but it is not the right tool to achieve our objectives of initiating global, reciprocal and gradual efforts”.

 

Political developments

In September 2020, seven political parties in Belgium reached an agreement to form a coalition government. The agreement included a commitment to explore “how the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons can give new impetus to multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

Four former prime ministers and foreign ministers of Belgium – namely, Willy Claes, Erik Derycke, Yves Leterme and Guy Verhofstadt – were among the signatories to an open letter in September 2020 calling on current leaders to “show courage and boldness – and join the treaty”.

In January 2020, a parliamentary motion to direct the government to withdraw US nuclear weapons from Belgian territory and to join the treaty was narrowly defeated, with 66 parliamentarians in favour and 74 against.

Belgian campaigners celebrate the treaty’s entry into force on 22 January 2021, and call for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons. Photo: Vinnie de Craim

 

Public opinion

A public opinion poll conducted by YouGov in November 2020 found that 77 per cent of Belgians believe that their country should join the treaty, with just 11 per cent opposed to joining. Furthermore, 66 per cent believe that Belgium should be among the first NATO states to join, even if it faced pressure from allies not to do so.

The poll also found that 57 per cent of Belgians want US nuclear weapons to be removed from Belgian territory – a requirement of the treaty.

In September 2018, more than 150 Belgian mayors signed a letter to the Belgian government and parliament calling for Belgium’s signature and ratification of the treaty.

The ICAN symbol is projected onto a government building in Belgium on 22 January 2021 – the date of the treaty’s entry into force. Photo: ICAN

 

Treaty negotiations

Belgium did not participate in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and thus did not vote on its adoption. 

In 2016, Belgium voted against the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

In a document sent to NATO members ahead of the vote, the United States “strongly encourage[d]” members, including Belgium, to vote against the resolution, “not to merely abstain”. In addition, it said that, if the treaty negotiations do commence, allies and partners should “refrain from joining them”.

Nuclear-weapon endorser: hosts nuclear weapons on its territory

Hosts 20 US nuclear weapons

Has not yet joined the TPNW

[HIGHLIGHTS]

Summary

Belgium has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It supports the retention and potential use of nuclear weapons on its behalf, as indicated by its endorsement of various alliance statements of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), of which it is a member.

 

Nuclear weapons in Belgium

Belgium is one of five NATO members to host US nuclear weapons on its territory as part of a nuclear-sharing agreement. The Belgian air force is assigned approximately 20 B61 nuclear bombs, which are deployed at Kleine Brogel Air Base.

 

National position

Belgium has consistently voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the treaty and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.

In explaining its vote on the resolution in December 2020, Belgium said that the treaty “could give new impetus to multilateral nuclear disarmament, but it is not the right tool to achieve our objectives of initiating global, reciprocal and gradual efforts”.

 

Political developments

In September 2020, seven political parties in Belgium reached an agreement to form a coalition government. The agreement included a commitment to explore “how the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons can give new impetus to multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

Four former prime ministers and foreign ministers of Belgium – namely, Willy Claes, Erik Derycke, Yves Leterme and Guy Verhofstadt – were among the signatories to an open letter in September 2020 calling on current leaders to “show courage and boldness – and join the treaty”.

In January 2020, a parliamentary motion to direct the government to withdraw US nuclear weapons from Belgian territory and to join the treaty was narrowly defeated, with 66 parliamentarians in favour and 74 against.

Belgian campaigners celebrate the treaty’s entry into force on 22 January 2021, and call for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons. Photo: Vinnie de Craim

 

Public opinion

A public opinion poll conducted by YouGov in November 2020 found that 77 per cent of Belgians believe that their country should join the treaty, with just 11 per cent opposed to joining. Furthermore, 66 per cent believe that Belgium should be among the first NATO states to join, even if it faced pressure from allies not to do so.

The poll also found that 57 per cent of Belgians want US nuclear weapons to be removed from Belgian territory – a requirement of the treaty.

In September 2018, more than 150 Belgian mayors signed a letter to the Belgian government and parliament calling for Belgium’s signature and ratification of the treaty.

The ICAN symbol is projected onto a government building in Belgium on 22 January 2021 – the date of the treaty’s entry into force. Photo: ICAN

 

Treaty negotiations

Belgium did not participate in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and thus did not vote on its adoption. 

In 2016, Belgium voted against the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

In a document sent to NATO members ahead of the vote, the United States “strongly encourage[d]” members, including Belgium, to vote against the resolution, “not to merely abstain”. In addition, it said that, if the treaty negotiations do commence, allies and partners should “refrain from joining them”.

[PARTNERS]

Agir pour la Paix

WEBSITE


Activisme_BE

WEBSITE


Association Medicale Pour La Prevention de la Guerre Nucleaire

WEBSITE


Coordination Nationale d'Action pour la Paix et la Démocratie

WEBSITE


LEF - FGE

WEBSITE


Pax Christi Vlaanderen Vzw

WEBSITE


Physicians for Peace (Artsen voor vrede)

WEBSITE


VOS Vlaamse Vredesvereniging (VOS Flemish Peace Association)

WEBSITE


Vrede vzw

WEBSITE


Belgian coalition against nuclear weapons

website

[LOCALSUPPORT]

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Support in Belgium for the ICAN Cities Appeal >

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  • Agir pour la Paix

    WEBSITE

  • Activisme_BE

    WEBSITE

  • Association Medicale Pour La Prevention de la Guerre Nucleaire

    WEBSITE

  • Coordination Nationale d'Action pour la Paix et la Démocratie

    WEBSITE

  • LEF - FGE

    WEBSITE

  • Pax Christi Vlaanderen Vzw

    WEBSITE

  • Physicians for Peace (Artsen voor vrede)

    WEBSITE

  • VOS Vlaamse Vredesvereniging (VOS Flemish Peace Association)

    WEBSITE

  • Vrede vzw

    WEBSITE

  • Belgian coalition against nuclear weapons

    website