Dutch Minister of Defense, Henk Kamp, refused answering if he informed the Romanian governmental officials about the complaints regarding the cancer appeared at the army men that used the Hawk missile systems, which Romania bought. This way, the lie told by the representative of the Dutch Defense to his colleagues in the Parliament proves to be premeditated.
On the 19th of July 2005, Jurnalul National sent a set of questions to the Dutch ministry of Defense, to Minister Henk Kamp especially. Three weeks later, we received a laconic answer. We received it in the same day we published the interview with Krista van Veltzen, member of the Dutch Parliament. The Ministry of Defense presents the technical data of the systems, but goes around the questions regarding the diseases, as well as the ones through which we wanted to know if they informed the Romanian officials about the cases, as State Secretary Cornelis (Cees) van der Knaap was stating in front of the Dutch Parliament.
PROS AND CONS
"The systems are modernized and they are in good condition", says the answer of the Dutch Minister of Defense. On the other hand, the President of the military Unions in Holland, states that "Holland is selling these systems, because they are outdated and limited". In his turn, Dutch member of the Parliament Krista van Veltzen stated in the interview for Jurnalul National that "at the end of this year, the systems reach the end of their operational and technical resources. In the same time, some of the missiles are outdated. And the truth is that all the costs of the exploitations increase since they are less and less used by the state". "The Hawk missile systems have been used by the Dutch Air Forces until the end of 2004", continues the official letter from the Defense Ministry from Hague and reasons their selling by "budget adjustments and change of priorities". But how do the economy savings deal with the acquisition in 2002 of three Patriot systems, which cost Holland 227 million euros?
The only person who answered to our troubling questions that wanted to clarify the contradiction regarding this purchase was a spokesperson. We will now show the technical answers sent by Klaas Meijer. "The HAWK (Homing All the Way Killers) system is an antiaircraft defense system for targets at most 15,000 meters away. It guarantees the air-base type defense of operative designated areas or of the installations against the attacks at low and medium altitudes. Due to the latest improvements, the systems are somewhat efficient against ballistic missiles too. The system can be divided into three components: acquisition, fire control and launch. The detection of the targets is made with the help of the launching component with the help of the radar. The information regarding the targets can be sent with a data link as well. The missile is self-guidable. The missile or the missiles can be launched manually or automatically by the launching system. The HAWK missiles are launched using a mobile launching system that allows moving them from one location to another, in a few hours. A HAWK squadron has 50 vehicles. The first HAWK system has been produced in 1963, and it was improved more than once. The Dutch HAWK systems have been used during the first war in the Golf in 1991. Afterwards, they were left in Turkey to help for the protection of the NATO allies against the Iraqi air threats." We have to say that the Dutch Government went around the question regarding other statesâ interest in these systems.
The answer of the Dutch Ministry of Defense doesnât say anything about the cancer cases: "The Dutch scientists have proved the work with the HAWK systems isnât dangerous to the health of the army men. There is no proof connecting the cancer cases and the use of these missiles as long as the standard safety procedures are followed". The radar is a normal safety device if it is used in accordance with the instructions". This is the same story that the Dutch officials have been waving in front of their Parliament and their army for years. But Krista van Veltzen has told us very clearly about the so-called investigations of the Dutch scientists: "The first investigation made in Holland regarded and ideal situation which is not the same with the practical one. It was supposed that in any situation the soldiers would keep the normal distance recommended by the producer (74 meters). This is impossible on hilly fields, in an area with many buildings that block the view or when the launch must happen quickly. The next investigation will be based on literary research".
In exchange, the Ministry of Defense doesnât say a word about the 212 complaints filed in since 1998, not a word about the articles in the Dutch press in which the victims or their families were blaming the morbidity. Not a word about the 73 people suffering from cancer or about the 48 who suffer from other diseases. The President of the Dutch army Unions was stating for Jurnalul National that he didnât believe in the guarantees offered by the Government: "There are too many coincidences. We have confronted with this kind of cases ever since 1998. We have been informed by our Belgian, German and Danish colleagues that are part of EUROMIL and they confronted with similar cases." We also note that the Dutch Ministry of Defense doesnât say a word about the investigation started in Belgium in 2001 and whose result they pretend to be waiting in order to decide on the danger of these missiles. This investigation should have ended by now, but nothing was made public. They keep postponing it.
"The Romanian Ministry of Defense should answer the questions regarding the acquisition procedure and the negotiations", is the answer of Klaas Meijer, the representative of the Dutch Ministry of Defense. Well, we understand the source of inspiration of the Romanian specialists from the Ministry of Defense for limiting the transparency. Since the Dutch advised us to ask the Romanian Ministry of National Defense (MND), we will show you now the way in which they support the idea of these data being classified. "Regarding your request for the acquisition of the HAWK PIP III equipments from the Dutch Government, we have to say the answers to questions 1, 2 and 4 (n.e. these are exactly the questions regarding the negotiations) are considered to be classified by the Department for Guns, and the access to those is possible only with the necessary approvals, according to the Romanian regulations".
We have also asked the MND to state whether there were any complaints from the Romanian army men regarding any diseases. "In more than 30 years of exploitations, the civilian and military personnel of the base-air missiles structures did not signal any harmful effects during the training and disposal of the technique. The medical statistics donât record any professional diseases in the mentioned units", says the MND. Taking into account this answer and the complaints of the Dutch, German and Danish soldiers against the Hawk systems that have just been purchased by Romania, we have to wonder why was it necessary for us to replace the present equipments, which are in the same category with Hawk and have even better performances? Why is it necessary for all the Romanians to support an agreement that will have effects of at least half a billion US dollars?
These are the questions that the Dutch Minister of Defense, Henk Kamp, refused answering:
Starting from 1998, there have been many complaints from the army men that worked with these systems and that accused they suffered from several diseases due to the radiations of the radar. The President of the Military Unions, Wim van der Burg, stated that, for now, there are 73 soldiers suffering from cancer and 48 from other diseases. How do you comment this?
Have you initiated an epidemiological investigation? Is it over? What are the conclusions?
Have you informed the Romanian partners about the diseases of the army men and about the possible connection between them and the radars? What was their answer?
Have you informed NATO about these problems? What was their reaction?
Do you know anything about the similar problems appeared in other states, member of the NATO ( Belgium, Germany, Denmark, other)?
Besides Romania, what other countries showed their interest in the acquisition of the HAWK PIP III systems?