"... we will strive within (NATO) and with our American allies for a withdrawal of the last U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany."
The head of the Free Democrats, Guido Westerwelle, is likely to become Foreign Minister in the new government. During the election campaign, he had committed his party to negotiating the withdrawal of the US nuclear weapons on German soil. In recent years, as numbers of nukes deployed to Europe has fallen, they have already been removed from the UK and Greece. Turkey has ended its participation in NATO nuclear sharing programmes, and the presence of the weapons has become more and more controversial.
If this coalition agreement does contain this commitment, it will mark a change in policy by Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrat party which had, up to now, remained supportive of the nuclear deployment. Such a move would also be very interesting in the context of the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech on non-proliferation this week in which she talked of the need to provide assurance to allies while meeting non-proliferation goals:
.. the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review will be a key milestone. It will more accurately calibrate the role, size, and composition of our nuclear stockpile to the current and future international threat environments. And it will provide a fundamental reassessment of
As part of the NPR, the Nuclear Posture Review, we are grappling with key questions: What is the fundamental purpose of the
Behind the scenes it is clear that the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe is on the agenda, and the question is how to provide extended deterrence without keeping the symbols of that policy on the continent?
This German statement is most interesting. The new Norwegian government has committed itself to a similar debate within NATO. With major figures like former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers (who championed the unpopular arrival of nuclear armed Cruise missiles in the Netherlands in the 1980s) stating that the US nuclear deployments to Europe should be ended, the debate on deterrence in the NATO Strategic Concept review should prove extremely interesting.