UK not pleased with Belgian blockade of crucial nuclear technology

Belgium is making headlines across the Channel after the federal government blocked the export of technology essential for maintaining the UK's nuclear deterrent. In retaliation, the UK is reportedly considering suspending a €600m (£514.90m) machine gun order from arms manufacturer FN Herstal, which Belgian opposition parties say would be pernicious for jobs in Wallonia.

NATO allies Belgium and the UK are embroiled in a conflict after the Belgian green parties decided to use Brexit rules to block the export of crucial nuclear weapons technology to the UK. The technology, an isostatic press, plays a vital role in maintaining the UK's nuclear deterrent, with Belgium insisting that the UK needs an "export licence" to obtain it after Brexit, British media reported.

"How long will we tolerate green dogmatism?"

In the meantime, N-VA MP Anneleen Van Bossuyt argues that Belgium's credibility on the international stage is at stake and that our country comes across as an unreliable partner of the UK as a NATO ally. "How long will we tolerate green dogmatism?"

According to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), the Advisory Commission on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (CANVEK) has yet to look into the matter, and the government will then decide what to do.

"In times like these, it is important to value partnerships and respect the laws in our country."

"The British are our neighbours. They are a partner in many areas and a vital trading partner, including in energy and NATO," the Belgian prime minister said. "In times like these, it is important to value partnerships and respect the laws in our country."

The contract between FN Herstal and the UK "is still being negotiated", Walloon Economy Minister Willy Borsus (MR) said on Thursday evening. Moreover, the amount is indeed high, "but much lower than the amounts circulating in the press today", he clarified. The government confirmed it will resolve the export licence file.


Illustration picture shows the entrance of the FN Herstal weapon manufacturer in Herstal, Wednesday 07 October 2020.

© ​ BELGA PHOTO John Thys



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