Activists enter US military base in Germany to challenge nuclear weapons deployment

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Catholic Worker Susan Crane amongst five international activists who entered nuclear weapons base, Buchel Air Base in Germany

Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
An international group of five peace activists got far inside the
Büchel Air Base in Büchel, Germany, after nightfall on Monday, 17 July
2017.

For the first time in a 21-year long series of protests against the deployment of US B61 thermonuclear bombs there, the activists climbed on top of one large bunker used for nuclear weapons. After cutting through two exterior fences and two more fences surrounding the large earth-covered bunkers, the five spent more than one hour unnoticed sitting on the bunker. No notice of the group was taken until after two
of them climbed down to write “DISARM” on the bunker’s metal front door, setting off an alarm. Surrounded by vehicles and guards searching on foot with flashlights, the five eventually alerted guards to their presence by singing, causing the guards to look up. The internationals were eventually taken into custody more than two hours after entering
the base.
The five, Steve Baggarly, 52, of Virginia; Susan Crane, 73, of California; John LaForge, 61, and Bonnie Urfer, 65, both of Wisconsin; and Gerd Buentzly, 67, of Germany, said in a statement titled All Nuclear Weapons are Illegal and Immoral: “We [..] have entered Büchel Air Base to condemn the nuclear weapons deployed here. We ask Germany to either disarm the weapons or send them back to the United States for disarming.”
An hour after being detained, searched and photographed, the five were
released through the base’s main entrance.

Activists from the United States came to Büchel to highlight the plans
for modernization of the B61. Ralph Hutchison, from Oak Ridge,
Tennessee, where a new thermonuclear core for the “B61-Model12” will be
manufactured, said: “It is important that we show this is a global
movement. The resistance to nuclear weapons is not limited to one
country. The new B61-12 program will cost more than $12 billion, and
when production starts sometime after 2020, Büchel is scheduled to get
new nuclear bombs.”
“The idea that nuclear weapons provide security is a fiction believed
by millions,” said John LaForge, of Nukewatch in Wisconsin, which
organized the 11-person delegation from the US. “Tonight we showed that
the image of a secure nuclear weapons facility is also a fiction,” he said.
“Everyone’s children and everyone’s grandchildren have a right to a
nuclear weapons-free world. All of creation calls us to life, to
disarmament, to a world of justice—for the poor, the Earth, and the
children,” read the statement, released in both German and English.

Susan Crane, a Plowshares activist from the Redwood City, Calif.
Catholic Worker, said, “The Commander of the Base, Oberstleutnant
Schlemmer, came to meet us at 3:00 a.m. and told us what we did was very
dangerous and we might have been shot. We believe the greater danger
comes from the nuclear bombs that are deployed at the Base.”

Büchel is Everywhere, Nuclear Weapons Free Now! continues until August
9, 2017 and will close with a commemoration of the US atomic bombing of
Nagasaki, Japan.

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