The talking points during John Kerry’s visit to Spain have included cleaning up nuclear contamination, TTIP and the Spanish economy. EURACTIV Spain reports.
On Sunday (18 October), US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Manuel García-Margallo to sign a declaration of intent to relocate radioactive, contaminated soil to a site in the US.
The declaration refers to the town of Palomares, located on the south coast, where, in 1966, an incident involving two US air force aircraft led to one square mile of land being contaminated with nuclear material. Despite numerous clean-up efforts, the Energy, Environmental and Technological Research Centre (CIEMAT) has found that the area still exhibits significant levels of radiation.
The incident was caused by a mid-air collision between a B-52 bomber and its refueling tanker. Four nuclear bombs were on board the bomber, two of which were recovered intact.
The non-nuclear explosive material of the remaining two bombs exploded upon impact, contaminating the site in question. The effects have been described as being akin to a dirty-bomb explosion.
The text signed by Madrid and Washington commits the two nations to “negotiate a binding agreement” to clean-up the Palomares site and to organise the relocation of contaminated materials to the US.
According to García-Margallo, “the will to do this is here, and to get it done as soon as possible”, adding that although it has taken 50 years to “right a wrong”, it is a case of “all’s well that ends well”.
In addition to the Palomares issue, Kerry highlighted his admiration for Spain’s handling of the aftermath of the financial crisis, commenting that the Spanish people “should feel proud of their work” and that “after years of sacrifice and reforms”, the economy has been “transformed”.
Kerry highlighted the good relations between the two countries, since both are “supporters of democracy”, “defend the rule of law” and are “economic allies”.
The American official then met with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, where the main point of discussion was the Transatlantic Trade Partnership Agreement (TTIP).
The Secretary of State also met with King Felipe VI at the royal residence, then had a meeting with Pedro Sánchez, the Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), before flying back to Washington.