The Joint Strike Fighter may be used to carry nuclear weapons in the future, according to defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and foreign affairs minister Frans Timmermans.
Last year a majority of MPs supported a motion stating the F-35 jet fighter should have no nuclear role. However, Hennis and Timmermans have now decided to set the motion aside because of the Netherlands’ role within Nato.
The minister say they will continue to support nuclear disarmament but say the Netherlands does have a nuclear role for the time being. ‘We do not want to be tied to the standpoint set out in the motion,’ they said in a briefing to parliament.
Socialist MP Jasper van Dijk said this was a ‘weak response’ from the cabinet. ‘Of course the Netherlands can make its own decision about nuclear weapons,’ he said.
The government made its decision to go ahead with the purchase of the controverial JSF fighters last September. They will replace the ageing fleet of F-16s. The decision brought to an end 18 years of political dithering.
The Netherlands will buy 37 FSF jets to keep the cost within the €4.5bn special budget. They will cost an additional €270m a year to keep in the air.