Two from US Detained Inside Büchel Air Base during “Nuclear Weapons Inspection”

John LaForge

Rear of “Protected Airplane Shelter”  E or F, inside a High Security area of Büchel  Air Force Base. Photo by John LaForge.
Rear of “Protected Airplane Shelter”  E or F, inside a High Security area of Büchel Air Force Base. Photo by John LaForge.

BÜCHEL, Germany — Two US citizens calling themselves “Weapons Inspectors” were detained Monday August 6, after they gained access to the Büchel Air Force Base, a reported deployment site for 20 US nuclear weapons near here. Monday was the 73rd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

The two, Susan Crane, 74, from the Redwood City, California Catholic Worker, and John LaForge, 62, from the group Nukewatch in Wisconsin, clipped through exterior fencing and NATO wire around 5:30 p.m. to gain access to the inner security area of the base.
“Nuclear weapons are immoral and illegal because they indiscriminately kill everything in their wake,” said Crane. “Their effects, the fires and radiation, can’t be controlled in any way, so any use of them violates the rules of war,” she said.
LaForge added, “Any deployment of US nuclear weapons in Germany also violates the Nonproliferation Treaty which prohibits any transfer of nuclear weapons between parties to the treaty.” “The NPT also requires signatories like the US and Germany to pursue negotiations for nuclear disarmament, like the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons of July 7, 2017,” he said.

“We hoped to confirm that the US has removed its nuclear bombs in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but our investigation was halted by the military,” Crane said. Once inside, the two located several “protected airplane shelters” surrounded by another barrier of NATO wire, and that they spent one hour on top of one shelter to take radiation measurements.

After climbing down to inspect a second bunker, the two were observed and detained by a large number military personnel. “The extra razor wire around the bunker, the near access to the jet runway, and the massive heavily armed military reaction to us, indicates the US nuclear weapons are here,” Crane said. Nuclear weapons experts including Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists have reported that the highly secure shelters in this area of the base contain underground “vaults” capable of holding the US B61 gravity bombs.

Crane and LaForge noted the national security threat of wild fires in Germany brought on by record-breaking heat and draught. “The German government continues wasteful training missions for nuclear war here , and intends to spend billions on a new Eurofighter, while the country had no planes available 12 days ago for fire suppression efforts in the eastern part of Germany” (as Annalena Baerbock, the head of the Greens in the state of Brandenburg, said in a television interview August 5).

LaForge at left and crane, behind gate, wait to be released from the Büchel  AFB, August 6.
LaForge at left and crane, behind gate, wait to be released from the Büchel AFB, August 6.

The US activists wore signs reading “Weapons Inspector,” and searched part of the base with a radiation monitor for signs of nuclear weapons deployment. The two were eventually observed, detained, and kept face down in the grass for an hour. After being searched, identified, and turned over to local police, they were released without conditions around 20:45 p.m.

The Hiroshima Day inspection came toward the end of a 20-week-long series of protests which began March 26, organized by “Büchel is Everywhere: Nuclear Weapons-Free Now!”, a nation-wide coalition of 50 peace and justice groups and organizations working for nuclear disarmament. The campaign’s three goals are removal of all nuclear weapons from Germany, cancellation of plans to replace the B61s with new weapons, and Germany’s ratification of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.