February 04
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Belgium and Britain have quarreled after the Belgian government blocked the export of technology that is crucial to maintaining Britain's nuclear capabilities, despite the fact that both countries are NATO allies, the Times writes.

The dispute escalated over warnings in the Belgian government that Britain had threatened to cancel a weapons order worth up to 514.90 million pounds (600 million euros) for machine guns manufactured by Belgium's FN Herstal if exports were not allowed.

High-ranking sources in the Belgian government are concerned that the conflict threatens Western and NATO unity during the war in Europe.

Two weeks ago, Belgium's federal government refused permission to export a specialized isostatic press needed to maintain Britain's nuclear arsenal because the Greens, who make up the fragile ruling coalition, vetoed it.

The press is manufactured in Antwerp by the U.S.-Belgian company EPSI. Since Britain's exit from the EU, a special license from the Belgian government is required to export this product. Previously this procedure was formal, but this time it was blocked by Deputy Prime Minister Georges Gilkinet. The politician represents the Ecolo party, which opposes nuclear weapons and the military-industrial lobby.

The press was used in the production of nuclear warheads in Aldermaston. The publication's source in the British Navy claims that the lack of supplies will not affect the combat effectiveness of the United Kingdom's navy.

Belgium describes the product as unparalleled in the world. According to the newspaper, London threatens Brussels with the cancellation of the purchase of machine guns by Belgian company FN Herstal which cost over £514 million (about €600 million). This could lead to the collapse of the ruling coalition in Belgium, as it would jeopardize employment at the FN Herstal plants in the southern part of the country, TASS reported.

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