Defence shelves plans for missiles

15th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 May 2007, AMSTERDAM (AP) - The Dutch defence minister said Monday he has shelved plans to buy 30 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

15 May 2007

AMSTERDAM (AP) - The Dutch defence minister said Monday he has shelved plans to buy 30 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

"For the coming four years I do not plan to buy this weapon for the navy," Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop told reporters in Brussels, where he was attending a meeting.

"I can use the money better elsewhere."

The planned purchase of Tomahawk missiles would have cost about EUR 62 million (USD $84 million) and made the Netherlands the third country after the United States and Britain to have the missiles in its arsenal.

The Labour Party, which opposed the deal when it was debated in 2005, is now part of the ruling coalition that took office in the Netherlands in February and is looking for ways to cut government spending.

The original decision to buy the missiles provoked heated debate in parliament. Analysts questioned why the Dutch military, which is focused on peacekeeping missions, needed the weapons - upgraded versions of the missiles which pounded Baghdad in 2003 to soften up Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion.

Van Middelkoop's spokesman Otto Beeksma said the decision does not have to be approved by the Dutch parliament.

The U.S. embassy in The Hague had no comment and Raytheon Co., which makes the missiles, could not immediately be reached for comment.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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