Nuclear Weapons

US Nuclear Weapons Site in Europe Breached

02.04.10 | 3 min read | Text by Hans Kristensen
Peace activists walked one kilometer onto a US nuclear weapons storage site in Belgium for more than one hour before security personnel reacted. Click image for larger version.
(For an update to this map, go here)

By Hans M. Kristensen

A group of people last week managed to penetrate deep onto Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium where the U.S. Air Force currently deploys 10-20 nuclear bombs. (For an update to this blog, go here)

Fortunately, the people were not terrorists but peace activists from a group known as Vredesactie, who managed to climb the outer base fence, walk cross the runway, breach a double-fenced security perimeter, and walk into the very center of the air base alongside the aircraft shelters where the nuclear bombs are thought to be stored in underground vaults.

A Nuclear Cake Walk
The activists climbed the outer base fence (1), breached the inner double-fence (2), tagged a nuclear aircraft shelter (3), walked across the tarmac (4), before being arrested (5) after more than one hour inside the base. The numbers on the images correspond to the location of the numbers on the map above.

The activists penetrated nearly one kilometer onto the base over more than an hour before a single armed security guard appeared and asked what they were doing. Soon more arrived to arrest the activists, who later described: “The military blindfolded for hours, they forced us to kneel in the snow, arms outstretched at 90° and threatened us if we intend to return to the base in the months to come.”

The activists videotaped their entire walk across the base. The security personnel confiscated cameras, but the activists removed the memory card first and smuggled it out of the base. Ahem…

In June 2008, I disclosed how an internal Air Force investigation had concluded that most nuclear weapons sites in Europe did not meet US security requirements. The Dutch government denied there was a problem, and an investigative team later sent by the US congress concluded that the security was fine.

They might have to go back and check again.

The nuclear bombs at Kleine Brogel are part of a stockpile of about 200 nuclear weapons left in Europe after the Cold War ended. Whereas nuclear weapons have otherwise been withdrawn to the United States and consolidated, the bombs in Europe are scattered across 62 aircraft shelters at six bases in five European countries. The 130-person US 701st Munitions Support Squadron (MUNSS) is based at Kleine Brogel to protect and service the nuclear bombs and facilities.

They might have to go back to training.

The activists will likely be charged with trespassing a military base but they should actually get a medal for having exposed security problems at Kleine Brogel. And this follows two years of the Air Force creating new nuclear command structures and beefing up inspections and training to improve nuclear proficiency following the embarrassing incident at Minot Air Force Base in 2007. Despite that, the activists not only made their way deep into the nuclear base but also discovered that the double-fence around the nuclear storage area had a hole in it! “We’re not the first,” one of the activists said.

NATO needs to get over its obsession with nuclear weapons and move out of the Cold War and the Obama administration’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review needs to bring those weapons home before the wrong people try to do what the peace activists did.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

See all publications
Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Notebook: Russian Nuclear Weapons, 2023

The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons, and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]

05.08.23 | 1 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Video Indicates that Lida Air Base Might Get Russian “Nuclear Sharing” Mission in Belarus

On 14 April 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence released a short video of a Su-25 pilot explaining his new role in delivering “special [nuclear] munitions” following his training in Russia. The features seen in the video, as well as several other open-source clues, suggest that Lida Air Base––located only 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and the […]

04.19.23 | 7 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Was There a U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accident At a Dutch Air Base? [no, it was training, see update below]

A photo in a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) student briefing from 2022 shows four people inspecting what appears to be a damaged B61 nuclear bomb.

04.03.23 | 7 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
STRATCOM Says China Has More ICBM Launchers Than The United States – We Have Questions

In early-February 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had informed Congress that China now has more launchers for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the United States. The report is the latest in a serious of revelations over the past four years about China’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and the deepening […]

02.10.23 | 6 min read
read more