Belgium is doubling its stock of iodine pills, by buying 46 million supplementary units to be distributed to the population in case of a nuclear accident or attack, interior minister Jan Jambon has announced.
The cost was not revealed, but six years ago Belgium bought 40 million iodine pills in boxes of 10 units, for a total of 1,6 million euros.
After the Paris terror attacks in November it was revealed that the terrorists were initially planning to try to damage nuclear plants in Belgium.
In one of the hide-outs in Brussels, investigators have found more than ten hours of video footage of the house of the chief of the Belgian nuclear researches in Flanders. The official had been tracked and followed for a long time by the terrorists who finally committed the massacres in Paris, which already constitutes a serious breach in security and a serious embarrassment for the Belgian security services.
Belgium has seven nuclear reactors generating about half of its electricity. The state of the Belgian nuclear plants, especially the faltering Doel and Tihange reactors, in Wallonia, is regularly denounced by Belgium’s neighbours France and Germany.
A nuclear reactor at Tihange power station was turned off on 18 December 2015 evening due to a fire in the plant. There were loud protests in Germany’s western border region of Aachen against the state of Belgium’s nuclear plants across the border. Belgium intends to keep the reactors in function until the phasing out of its nuclear sector by 2025.
The last time the eventuality of terrorists resorting to a nuclear attack through proxy was invoked was in 2003, when the Belgian-Tunisian former professional footballer Nizar Trabelsi was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for plotting to attack the American airbase of Kleine Brogel in Flanders, Belgium, where nuclear missiles are known to be stored. In October 2013, after having fully served his sentence, Trabelsi was extradited to the United States, but for a long time at the end of 2007 and the start of 2008, there was maximum alert in Brussels when authorities intercepted a plot to free Trabelsi from jail.
Belgium has one of the highest per capita rates of participation in militant groups such as Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
According to figures from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, Belgium has supplied 40 fighters per million inhabitants to fighting in Syria and Iraq – more than any other European country. Denmark comes a distant second place, with 27 fighters per million.
More than one quarter of the population of Brussels, the “EU’s capital”, is Muslim, mostly first and second generation Moroccans and Turks.