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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 23, 1977

INTERCHURCH PEACE COUNCIL (IKV), REPORT OF THE IKV MEETING OF 23 NOVEMBER 1977

This document was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation

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    In this meeting, The IKV responds to NATO discussions about a possible introduction of the 'N-bomb' [neutron bomb]. The neutron bomb would will probably be introduced; however the IKV needs to do all that it can to prevent its arrival.
    "Interchurch Peace Council (IKV), Report of the IKV Meeting of 23 November 1977," November 23, 1977, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, International Institute for Social History, Amersterdam, Archief Interkerkelijk Vredesberaad, Secretariaat 1977, Box 44. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122417
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Interchurch Peace Council.

Report of the IKV meeting of 23 November 1977.

Present: Bruning, Dilweg, Everts, J. Faber, Mient Jan Faber, Gerritsma, Schram, Tromp, ter Veer, Woelinga, Zoon.

Absent: Bark, ten Berge, Fischer, Flinterman, Giskes, Hogebrink, Knol, van Leeuwen, van Veen, Zöller.

[..]

  1. Reports

[..]

  1. Study groups and announcements…. (IKV/1977/102)

Study group “supervision of local branches.” According to Ter Veer the N-bomb[1] will come anyway, in spite of all protests; IKV should really bear this in mind. Considering what was said in Utrecht (if we think nuclear weapons should leave the Netherlands, we should not accept a new type entering either) we must prepare for actions, for example a big demonstration. We should carefully evaluate the right moment for this, with the help of information from people close to the fire (min[istry] of D[efense]). Such a demonstration – meant for non-church and non-IKV people as well – is a sort of test; it seems an appropriate action model to incite our local branches to gather thousands of people. We cannot allow ourselves to let the N-bomb arrive without having done our utmost to prevent it.

Others, for example Gerritsma, point again to the great importance of a correct timing; moreover the local branches must be informed well (and timely). Everts, following on this: probably mid-January the Alting von Geusau Committee will advise the government concerning the N-bomb; the decision-making within NATO will take place from mid- December to the end of February.[2] Not later than March, the decision will be made, so we have relatively little time. Fortunately, it is not necessary to thoroughly document our local branches in the case of a demonstration. But what are the consequences of an unsuccessful demonstration (too few people) and the bomb comes anyway? Everts is convinced of the latter: even with 50,000 demonstrators, the N-bomb will come. Ter Veer thinks, however, that 100,000 demonstrators cannot be ignored, but we will never get that number. M[ient]J[an]F[aber] doubts the effectiveness of these large numbers: the “National Forum against the N-bomb” has also been hushed up by the media, while there are already 250,000 signatures. Tromp wants to know first the situation with regard to the decision-making process. Several names are mentioned as possible informants. Tromp wonders however whether this is the right way.

J. Faber hesitates about a demonstration: we are making it too easy for our policy people. He agrees that a time will come we have to get into the streets (but aren't many local branches still too weak?). Ethically and culturally however this weapon is a disgrace. And if the churches are silent about this, we should perhaps consider returning our mandate. But let us try first to get people with great moral authority to speak out.

It is agreed to ask the churches to speak out against the N-bomb. This can be done in two ways: the IKV writes them, and the local branches do so (via their church councils). Mrs. Woelinga argues in favor of a letter plus some information about the N-bomb. For example, the contributions to the hearing by Boskma[3] and of the “Initiating Committee.”[4] Everts promises to provide a three-page memo; the study group “Churches” will write the letters. Tromp points to Alfrink’s[5] appearance at the year-in-review newscast of NOS-tv. Dilweg has been intending for a long time to invite the episcopate to take a position with regard to the N-bomb. Therefore, he is very interested in Everts’s memo. Next to this Pax Christi-letter he could imagine that the local branches too will address the episcopate (something for the logbook?)

After a short discussion about a new cabinet and its attitude towards the N-bomb, Tromp asks whether the Netherlands will have something to say about its introduction, or is the Netherlands just being consulted about the decision?[6] We should have sympathetic members of parliament ask whether—regardless the question if the N-bomb comes or not—the Dutch government even can say no. Everts points to NATO’s principle of unanimity, but Röling[7] questions this again. How does that work exactly? He proposes to approach this issue on two fronts: the IKV approaches sympathetic members of parliament, and we will mobilize the local branches.

Ter Veer sums up:

  1. The churches (and the political parties) are asked to speak out against the N-bomb. Everts will write an informative note; the study group ‘Churches’ will write a letter, to be sent by the IKV. In the logbook we will suggest to the local branches also to get in touch with the churches.
  2. The idea of a demonstration remains. We will have to discuss this further some time. Required is to make a correct estimate of the moment when in the Netherlands the  decision will be made. Additionally, a mobilization plan needs to be ready. Possibly the demonstration can coincide with the day of the local branches.
  3. Both the local branches and the IKV need to approach political parties to ask questions in parliament whether the Netherlands could even say no the N-bomb. MJF wonders about the bilateral treaty between the Netherlands and the United States concerning the storage of nuclear weapons. Tromp will contact H. de Lange about this.[8]

Study group ‘Churches’

[..]

Study group contacts ‘Non-churches’

Schram mentions a number of groups that according to him should be approached concerning the broadening of the campaign, e.g. LCGJ,[9] NCVB,[10] CJV,[11] HJR,[12] Political parties, etc. What does the IKV want with these groups? Zoon remarks that Vredesopbouw[13] keeps in close touch with NCVB. J. Faber doubts the actual need of certain political parties to talk with the IKV or other organizations. It is decided that for the time being not to structure the contacts with these organizations.

Ad bl. (petition against the N-bomb)

Schram has made further inquiries. The Initiating Committee asks the IKV to support this petition. In a previous meeting it was decided to join only when other national organizations cooperate as well. This is not the case (yet). Substantially, no objections can be made to the petition. The question remains however what value IKV’s adhesion to this petition would have. After a short discussion it is decided not to sign after all.

[...]

[1] “Neutron bomb,” Enhanced Radiation Weapon.

[2] Frans Alting von Geusau headed the Advisory Commission on Disarmament and International Security, advising the foreign and defense ministers.

[3] Parliamentary hearing concerning the ‘neutron bomb’.

[4] I.e. the committee ‘Stop the N-bomb’.

[5] Dutch cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

[6] After parliamentary elections in May and long negotiations between various political parties, the Netherlands was about to get a new government.

[7] Not clear who this is, as the person is not mentioned among those present at the meeting.

[8] Herman de Lange, polemologist.

[9] National Center for Reformed Youth Work.

[10] Dutch Christian Women’s Association.

[11] Christian Youth Association.

[12] Reformed Youth Council.

[13] Peacebuilding Foundation.

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