Members of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance will join peace activists from around the world in Büchel, Germany, from July 12-18 in protests at the Büchel Air Base to call for the withdrawal of the 20 U.S. B61 nuclear bombs that are currently deployed there, a press release said.
University of Tennessee student Carmella Cole, an OREPA Board member, and Ralph Hutchison, OREPA coordinator, will join nuclear abolition advocates from the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Belgium for a week of actions culminating in an international day of action on Sunday, July 16, the press release said.
“We have been invited to participate in this gathering because of the role the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex (the Y-12 National Security Complex) plays in the refurbishment of U.S. nuclear weapons,” Hutchison said in the press release. “Y-12 is currently making plans for the ‘life extension upgrade’ of the B61-Modification 12. The upgrade will result in a new, more threatening nuclear bomb, which will then be deployed in Büchel over the objections of the German Bundestag, which has voted, overwhelmingly, across all parties, for the removal of NATO nuclear weapons from German soil.”
Cole and Hutchison will join a delegation of 12 U.S. peace activists at the encampment at Büchel. The international week is part of a 20-week campaign for the removal of the B61 from Büchel that will conclude on August 9, 2017, the press release said.
The international delegation to Germany comes in the week following the United Nations’ historic July 7 vote passing a Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“The government of the United States refused to join in the Treaty negotiations or to vote for the Treaty,” Hutchison said. “But more than 120 nations have now established a legal prohibition on nuclear weapons. So it is up to citizens to make the Treaty effective by challenging their governments’ now-illegal operations.”
The OREPA press release said U.S. B61 bombs are deployed under the auspices of NATO in five European countries: Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and The Netherlands.
The U.S. plans to “modernize” the B61 bomb will cost more than $12 billion during the next decade, the press release said.
“In a country that is preparing to cut Medicaid funding for its neediest citizens, it is obscene that we would spend billions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction,” Hutchison said. “We are going to Germany to advocate for a peace agenda that priorities human needs over nuclear weapons that threaten to undo us all.”
Hutchison is one of four U.S. delegates who will speak at a press conference outside Frankfurt, Germany on Wednesday, July 12, just before noon, Central European Time.