Coalition parties fight over Cruise missiles

16th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 September 2004, AMSTERDAM — The two main government coalition parties in the Netherlands have fallen out over the Defence Minister's plans to buy Tomahawk Cruise missiles.

16 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — The two main government coalition parties in the Netherlands have fallen out over the Defence Minister's plans to buy Tomahawk Cruise missiles.

Defence Minister Henk Kamp of the Liberal VVD party is to present a document on budget day next Tuesday pushing for the Dutch government to spend EUR 109 million to outfit the navy's modern frigates with non-nuclear versions of the American missile.

Kamp hopes at a later stage that the air force's warhorse, the ageing F-16 jet fighter, will also be adapted to fire air-launched Tomahawks.

The Netherlands is part of the US-led multi-billion dollar programme to design and build the JSF, the next generation of jet fighters. The Dutch air force wants to replace its fleet of F-16s with the JSF, also known as the F-35.

The Christian Democrat CDA party of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has reacted coldly to Kemp's advocacy of Tomahawk Cruise missiles.

CDA MP Roland Kortenhorst said the economic position of the Netherlands did not leave room for spending money on something as "odd" as Cruise missiles.

The CDA had cold-shouldered Kamp's plan last year when he first presented it and Kortenhorst indicated Thursday that the party had not changed its view.

Kamp agreed last year to an independent study of his plan and he is to present the findings next Tuesday, the day his party leader and Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm presents the budget for 2005.

No funds have been earmarked in 2005 to buy the missiles, but Kamp wants Parliament to discuss the issue in coming months and back his plan to buy the conventional versions of the missile.

There were mass protests in the 1980s when the Christian Democrat-led government agreed to the US stationing Cruise missiles fitted with nuclear warheads on Dutch soil.

Ultimately, political change and the collapse of the Soviet Union meant the missiles were never deployed.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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