Belgium embarrassed by delivery of armaments to United Kingdom

The contract, the object of a dispute within the government coalition between environmentalists and liberals, would violate the legislation on export in the nuclear field.

by Jean- Stone stroobants (Brussels, correspondent)

A new subject of discord appeared within the Belgian government and the Prime Minister, Alexander de Croo, who described him as “sensitive”, will have to show imagination to resolve it, preserve the cohesion of his fragile majority, but also the relations of his country with the United Kingdom.

In question, an armament contract negotiated by London with a Belgian firm, but now blocked by a dispute between the ecological left and the French -speaking liberal right, members of the federal government, because it would violate the legislation on export of double -use material (civil and military) in the nuclear field.

“At the time of the war in Ukraine, when the Prime Minister returns from kyiv, we must absolutely avoid any controversy with an ally”, stormed, Monday, November 28, a deputy of the majority. A revival of tension is, however, well noticeable within the coalition, since the information revealed on November 23 by the LN24 channel concerning this file classified Secret-Defense.

The United Kingdom intends to acquire Belgian high-tech equipment, namely an isostatic press, a equipment that reduces the porosity of metal parts and strengthen their density. EPSI, a company in East Flanders, has become a leader in this area, long dominated by American firms.

“very important business partners”

The British authorities evoke an order for the purpose of “research”, undoubtedly military, but the equipment they hope to acquire can also be used for propulsion in the nuclear field. According to Belgian sources, the British Army would also like to use this tool for the maintenance of its atomic armament.

Hence the current blockage. Ecologists and the French -speaking PS based on a 1981 law, revised in 2010, which prohibits exports of double -use materials if they can help the development of “non -peaceful” nuclear power. The Flemish region – where EPSI has its headquarters – has certainly granted the export license – necessary, since the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union -, but the federal government must also give its approval, After having assessed the conformity of the contract to the treaties on nuclear non-proliferation.

An evaluation committee, bringing together representatives of a dozen ministries, first declared itself incompetent a few weeks ago. The Prime Minister indicated, on November 24, that she would meet again soon and “would decide in accordance with the law”. In parallel, the Head of Government insisted that “the British are our neighbors, our partners in many areas; very important business partners, also important in the field of energy, and naturally in NATO”.

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/Media reports cited above.