News / USA

Germany's Call for Removal of US Missiles in Europe Reopens Debate

Multimedia

Audio
Jennifer Glasse

Germany's new coalition government is calling for U.S. nuclear missiles to be removed from Europe.  A London research organization says Germany's announcement has reopened the global debate about whether nuclear weapons help or hinder global security.

U.S. President Barack Obama put forth his vision of a nuclear-free world in a speech last April in Prague.

"The United States will take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.  To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same.  Make no mistake, as long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and guarantee that defense to our allies, including the Czech republic," Mr. Obama said.

The U.S. administration will make its nuclear policy clear with a paper known as the Nuclear Posture Review expected to be reported to the U.S. Congress this month.  In the meantime, the German government has called for the removal of U.S. tactical weapons on its soil and from Europe altogether.

Former NATO Secretary General George Robertson says that is a bad idea.

"I think that they have not yet fully realized how symbolically important the American nuclear umbrella is, and how dangerous it might be and how risky it might be if one component of America's nuclear guarantee was to be removed without considering all of the consequences," Robertson said.

He says one of the consequences could be nuclear escalation, if nations do not feel safe.

"Far from making Europe safer, and far from producing a less nuclear dependent Europe, [the policy] may well end up bringing more nuclear weapons into the European continent, and frustrating some of the attempts that are being made to get multi-lateral nuclear disarmament," Robertson said.

Europe's main security structure is the NATO alliance, comprising 28 countries - including most of Europe, the United States and Turkey, among others. Article Five of its charter guarantees collective security.  Former Pentagon official Franklin Miller says that is why its newest members joined.

"I think the Eastern European nations joined the Alliance in large part because they received a guarantee from NATO of their territorial integrity, and what that means is there will be no war in Europe.  Not just no nuclear war in Europe, but no conventional war, no conventional aggression.  NATO has been the most successful defense alliance in history, largely in part because it has had a nuclear element to its Article Five guarantee," Miller said.

Miller and Robertson co-wrote a report on Germany's call to remove nuclear weapons, along with Security Analyst Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution.

"The Russians have 5,400 tactical nuclear weapons.  It is in NATO's interests and I would argue it is in Russia's interests to bring these under control of a treaty that is verifiable and that builds security in Europe," Schake said.

The report's title is "Germany opens Pandora's Box," but Robertson says the renewed debate is positive.

"It actually opens the door to a new opportunity to reduce the total number of short-range nuclear weapons in Europe by having a negotiation with Russia to reduce them on both sides.  That itself would be a grand bargain, and therefore we could move from the high risk that the present policy seems to suggest, to one that would reassure Russia, reduce the number of nuclear weapons in Europe and maintain Alliance solidarity," Robertson said.

Miller says it is not clear how many of Russia's weapons are functional.

"The real issue is how to increase transparency in Europe on tactical nuclear weapons holdings and reduce the overly large number of Russian tactical nuclear weapons, which is why we propose a new arms-control agreement," Miller said.

Analysts say the debate over nuclear weapons in Europe could ultimately affect the international community's dealings with Iran, because NATO-member Turkey borders that and other Middle Eastern nations.  Schake says that has dominated Turkey's foreign policy.

"They already have some of the most difficult problems of any NATO ally, not least Iran on the nuclear threshold will cause the Turks to think very seriously about their own security and whether current arrangements are adequate for it.  We NATO allies need to help the Turks feel secure and make choices that are good for all of us," Schake said.

Germany's stance may have sparked this debate, but any resolution will depend on the Obama administration's position on nuclear weapons and their future as a potential deterrent.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs