London and Brussels quarreled over equipment for the production of nuclear warheads

A trade and diplomatic conflict arose between the UK and Belgium after Brussels refused to hand over critical equipment for its NATO ally for nuclear deterrent forces, the Times newspaper reports.

Britain reportedly needed a specialized high-pressure isostatic press used by the nuclear industry to handle radioactive waste. These products are manufactured by the American-Belgian company EPSI in Antwerp. The Belgian presses are being used as part of the manufacturing process at the British facility in Aldermaston, which is responsible for the development, production and maintenance of nuclear warheads, the paper said.

An export license required after Brexit was seen as a formality, but Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Georges Zhilkinetwho, as a member of the Green Party, actively opposes nuclear weapons, blocked the deal.

The conflict escalated after British threats to cancel an order for the supply of machine guns by the Belgian company FN Herstal worth 600 million euros, the newspaper notes.

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