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US nuclear bombs will remain in Germany
Photo: DPA

US nuclear bombs will remain in Germany

Published: 05 Sep 2012 11:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Sep 2012 11:12 GMT+02:00

Although Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had put the removal of the 20 or so US nuclear warheads from Germany at the heart of his foreign policy aims, signs emerged two years ago that this might not be feasible.

Now, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported on Wednesday, the government has bowed to NATO plans to not only keep the bombs in Germany, but to modernise them.

Billions will be spent on modernising the bombs themselves, while the Bundeswehr is expected to spend around €250 million to keep its Tornado fighter jets – which would be used to drop the US nuclear bombs – serviceable until 2024.

In what it called an about-turn in German defence policy, the newspaper said the move was particularly painful for Westerwelle, who it noted had anchored the withdrawal of the US nukes from Germany in the 2009 coalition agreement.

Officially there are between 10 and 20 nuclear bombs at the Büchel Air Base in Rhineland Palatinate - relics of the Cold War stock of about 200 which were kept there until the 1990s.

Although many do not see the point of keeping the weapons in Germany, the paper said France, Turkey and eastern European states are keen to see them stay, while other countries want to see Russia reduce its tactical nuclear weapons arsenal first.

The Berliner Zeitung newspaper heard from military experts that the government had given up its position at the NATO summit in Chicago at the end of May, when Chancellor Angela Merkel and Westerwelle both assented to a joint declaration.

That declaration included a statement saying that nuclear weapons were a central component of the total NATO capacity, and that the current deployment was sufficient to provide an effective defence.

But although the foreign ministry still stresses that NATO is, in principle, working towards disarmament and control, Karl-Heinz Kamp, research director of the NATO Defence College in Rome, said there were several reasons why the Germans had to back down.

“Generally the euphoria about nuclear disarmament has dissipated,” he told the Frankfurter Rundschau. “And the relationship between Russia and the USA has cooled again. And with his public foray, Westerwelle did not make negotiations in NATO easier.”

He said the US was planning to spend around $4 billion to modernise the bombs and make them steerable rather than just drop bombs as they are now, yet this has also brought criticism.

“The modernisation of these weapons by the USA threatens to remove the strict distinction between tactical and strategic weapons,” said Gernot Erler, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD).

He said the SPD would call on the government to explain what steps it now planned in working towards the aim of removing US nuclear weapons from Germany and Europe.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:13 September 5, 2012 by freechoice
could this explain why more and more are having baby girls?
13:24 September 5, 2012 by Onlythetruth
The government is being sensible of course with Putin acting up again and Iran close to a weapon. You don't want to swim in the same ocean with these sharks without a good set of your own teeth.
14:53 September 5, 2012 by abemarch
Leadership means taking a stand first. If you wait until other make a move to disarm you will die waiting. Eliminate all nuclear weapons should be the goal. Who will start the elimination? How can you deny others from having them when you have them yourself?

As for the threat from Iran, if Israel were to give up her nuclear weapons and stop the occupation, Iran would have no reason to arm.

It's much like the Soviets and Americans. Build-up continued to match the other side. Who will take the lead?
15:05 September 5, 2012 by delvek
The Cold War may be over but the threat of nuclear war is not.

I am not much of a doom and gloom person but I still believe we are on a path of nuclear war. There are no leaders who will stop this crazy march. Does anyone stop to think of what life would be like for all of us in a post nuclear world. Its unfathomable, rule of law would be near absent. No one listens!
15:08 September 5, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ abemarch

Take the lead in disarming with predators like Iran and Russia? That is a good prescription for suicide.
15:51 September 5, 2012 by raandy
Nuclear weapons serve as a deterrent to those that would violate your sovereignty.

You could never be certain that everyone would give up their nuclear arsenals.

The amount of weaponry needs to be sufficient enough to threaten the opponent in a way that it would not even think of attacking.The only way a deterrent will work is that your opponent knows you can successfully deliver them and have the will if necessary to use them.

or leave it all to fate or if you are a believer in Gods hands.
16:55 September 5, 2012 by insight101
@ abemarch: that sounds like german logic talking. it is fantasy. please read raandy's comment if you want to know what is correct.

not only could you not be certain that someone would give up their nuclear arsenals, you could not be certain that they would not later decide to secretly build, and you would make war between superpowers more likely with conventional weapons of war which are more than terrible enough.
16:57 September 5, 2012 by Beachrider
Germany can influence or leave NATO. If being part of NATO is something that matters to Germany, then figure it out as a NATO issue. These weapons are under NATO administration.

I just want the USA to stop spending so much money propping up Western Europe's military capability. Those nukes are a low-cost alternative to conventional weapons. Spending so much USA taxpayer-money on external defenses where significant parts of the external population DON'T WANT HELP is a ridiculous vestige to the cold war.
19:28 September 5, 2012 by mobiusro
Artist: War

Why can't we be friends

Why can't we be friends....
21:22 September 5, 2012 by nemo999
Beachrider;

Nuclear Weapons, 1 or 200 are extremely expensive. The infrastructure need to support these systems in expensive, and much of it is not visible at first blush. First and foremost the weapons must be under positive control, and most of the cost of the weapon are associated with this activity. The majority of the cost associated with the weapons are the physical security, security training, security audits, command and control systems, weapon preventative maintenance, and finally specialized technical support activities, in addition to training that the operational crew training, security clearance maintenance and the list goes on.

I would guess that if NATO did not have nuclear weapons in Europe DOD support cost associated with NATO could be significantly reduced.

These are weapons that wait on the shelf with a limited shelf life, they slowly rot. They have to be periodically recycled back to the various weapons depots to be refreshed, and the costs associated with that process is not cheap.

Under NATO administration is misleading, since even SACEUR cannot release the weapons with out the President of the United States Authorization.
01:25 September 6, 2012 by Nemo2010
I agree with delvek. In probably a few short years Germany is going to send those weapons home to the U.S. if you get my drift. How else could anyone stop the coming race-riots/civil war that is coming to America? As for the weapons "rotting," Germany has plenty of nuclear weapons know-how and even currently manufactures components.
19:21 September 6, 2012 by Beachrider
@nemo, I didn't say that they were CHEAP. I just said that they were cheaper than conventional alternatives. Notwithstanding your guesses.

There are many documents that show that a large conventional deterrent is MUCH MORE cost than the nuclear stuff. As to rot, conventional stuff rots as well.

While it is true that NATO doesn't release weapons without clearance, the President-alone cannot authorize release of NATO weapons on German soil.

If you want them out, do it through NATO. The presence of ANY asset in NATO is cleared with the local national government. If you leave NATO, we will go away. (PLEASE LEAVE NATO!, it saves me tax dollars!)
05:06 September 7, 2012 by arthurdecco
"The government is being sensible of course with Putin acting up again and Iran close to a weapon. You don't want to swim in the same ocean with these sharks without a good set of your own teeth."

This is a perfect example of a foreign agent infecting the comments section of this webpage with blatant propaganda. I wonder what country pays this contributor's salary? Is it Israel or is it their co-opted administration in the United States of America?

Hmmmm....

...and it's not like this troll's attack on a reasonable exchange of ideas is an isolated incident...
12:01 September 7, 2012 by itchyvet
From outside Germany, it is clear Germans do not have any control or say so, on issues of this calibre.

IMHO, Germans lost that authority when the were occupied, and had new laws/constitutions forced upon them by their occupiers.

If Germans really think Russia or Iran is a threat to them, clearly the most intelligent Germans were lost during WW 2 and only the un-intelligent remain today.

Why is Germany even in NATO at all?
22:22 September 7, 2012 by sonriete
What is sad about this is that we are closing the nuclear power plants which provide clean energy with no green house emissions but keeping twenty bombs here whose only purpose is to kill people. If I had to choose between the two I would reverse it. But I guess life is not so easy as that.
09:56 September 8, 2012 by dr.makni49
When the bombs would sleep in Germany, it would keep convincing public that Germany as well as Europe is under threat which might turn out to be, more of a hallucination. In every ones mind, Russian reference usually follows which makes it a simple calculus. Would America or the Germans tell Angela Merkel and her Minister in 'pain' the reality of this bogie and the direction of actual threat to Germans and possibly Europe. Nay is the answer.
11:14 September 8, 2012 by radical.islamist
Don't be sad about it , Dear Germans !

They will be sent to Iran , very soon !
09:52 June 20, 2013 by hoshahh
Sooner or later, The US will know why this is a bad thing, they think they can do everything to the smaller, there will be a time that all of this changes.

The Netherlands have got 22 US nuclear bombs and who knows how many there are in other EU countries, this will only make them a bigger target.
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