The Netherlands' nuclear hypocrisy

The Netherlands is a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). It claims to be committed to nuclear disarmament. But as a member of NATO, the Netherlands relies on nuclear weapons for its defence, keeps US nuclear weapons on its territory - and has no plans to change any of that.

Eliminate nuclear weapons - and keep them too

Dutch policy on nuclear weapons is fundamentally conflicted. The Netherlands says it wants a world free of nuclear weapons, but also says it will rely on nuclear weapons for as long as they exist. In other words, the Netherlands is is favour of nuclear disarmament, just as soon as it has happened. It is clear that this simply cannot work: it is not possible to eliminate something by keeping it.

Do as we say, not as we do

The Netherlands is a prominent member of the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), which regularly calls for reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security strategies and for providing transparency on nuclear arsenals. But the Netherlands has taken no steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its own defence doctrine, and apparently has no plans to do so. The Netherlands provides no transparency whatsoever on the nuclear weapons kept on its territory, and does not even officially acknowledge their existence.

Obstructing disarmament

As a result of the contradictions in its policy, the Netherlands works to undermine nuclear disarmament initiatives that threaten the comfortable status quo. As long as nothing is actually happening, the Netherlands can safely claim to support nuclear disarmament, without needing to confront its conflicted policy. But when faced with the prospect of actual progress - for example, the proposal to "fill the legal gap" and prohibit nuclear weapons through a new treaty - the Netherlands resists, often in a disingenuous and underhanded way, rather than honestly face and resolve the contradictions in its policy.

The Netherlands has publicly denied that there is a “legal gap” with respect to the prohibition of nuclear weapons. It has not joined the Humanitarian Pledge. Despite the fact that as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT it is already prohibited from possessing nuclear weapons, the Netherlands has criticized and actively opposed moves to stigmatize and ban them.

Undermining trust, weakening the NPT

The Netherlands' hypocrisy undermines the international trust and cooperation necessary to make progress on nuclear disarmament, and assists the nuclear-armed states in maintaining the status quo. Worse, by resisting efforts to stigmatize and prohibit nuclear weapons, the Netherlands is helping to preserve their legitimacy as a means of pursuing national security, thereby inciting proliferation and weakening the NPT.