CND has praised the actions of the green members of Belgium’s federal coalition government, after they used post-Brexit trading arrangements to block the export of  “unique” technology used by Britain’s nuclear weapon manufacturers. 

The technology in question – a specialised isostatic press used to handle radioactive waste – is made by the Antwerp-based, US-Belgian firm, EPSI. Even though both Britain and Belgium are NATO members and are part of the bloc’s so-called nuclear umbrella, the former’s exit from the EU in 2020 means the granting of an export licence was required from Belgium’s federal government. While this is usually considered a formality, it allowed Deputy Prime Minister Georges Gilkinet – a member of the green Ecolo party – to block the licence on the grounds of opposition to nuclear weapons and the arms industry.

Ecolo’s actions has annoyed both Whitehall and others within the Belgian federal government. Britain has reportedly threatened to cancel other arms contracts with Belgium, worth between £257.40 million and £514.90 million, if the press isn’t released. 

The press described by one Belgian government source as “unique in the world,” is used in the manufacturing process at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston. It solidifies and consolidates liquid nuclear waste into compact synthetic rock ahead of being placed into storage. 

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “CND commends the actions of Ecolo in preventing the export of technology integral to Britain’s weapons of mass destruction.  The blocked export is proof of how those committed to nuclear disarmament can have an impact wherever they are in the world. Nuclear weapons are catastrophically dangerous, and do nothing to ensure genuine security. Indeed, their very possession is immoral. Britain and all nuclear-armed states should abandon their obsession with these weapons and build a new principled, common security policy based on peace and justice, and meeting human need.”