chapter  4
The Netherlands
Pages 18

From the beginning of its membership in NATO, the Netherlands was protected by the United States’ nuclear umbrella and therefore underwrote a policy of nuclear deterrence. However, Dutch support for nuclear deterrence took a more practical turn when the Netherlands agreed to base nuclear weapons on its territory at a NATO meeting in 1957. On 6 May 1959, a treaty was signed that regulated the cooperation of the United States and the Netherlands in the use of nuclear energy for mutual defense purposes. This treaty was not subject to parliamentary approval because it was defined as an implementation agreement of an earlier US-Netherlands mutual defense treaty, signed on 27 January 1950.1 This technical implementation agreement – similar to those signed with other NATO countries hosting US nuclear weapons – framed the conditions under which nuclear weapon systems were then introduced into the Netherlands. From 1960 onward, as part of the NATO flexible response strategy, hundreds of nuclear weapons were deployed on Dutch soil, primarily intended for a clash between NATO and the Warsaw Pact on the central German plains. They included the following2:

• Nuclear artillery shells for eight eight-inch army howitzers (1962-1992); • Nuclear free-fall bombs for air force strike aircraft: first, the Thunderstreak

(1959-1964); then, the Starfighter (1964-1985), and finally, the F-16, with 36 aircraft, later reduced to 18 that are still operational in that capacity today;

• Nuclear depth charges for use by the antisubmarine aircraft of the naval air service: 15 Neptunes (1963-1984) and 13 Orions (1984-1992);

• Short-range battlefield missiles for the army: 12, later eight, Honest John launchers (1959-1978), replaced by six Lance launchers (1979-1992);

• Atomic demolition mines for battlefield use by the army: one platoon (1964-1985);

• Nuclear-tipped anti-aircraft missiles for the air force: initially, 72 Nike Ajax launchers (1959-1964) and 18 Nike Hercules launchers (1964-1987).