Top security expert warns against US atomic weapons pullout from Germany

Top security expert warns against US atomic weapons pullout from Germany

German coalition talks deal with whether US should withdraw nuclear weapons from German soil

Oliver Towfigh Nia

BERLIN (AA) - The influential chairman of the Munich Security Conference warned on Thursday that a withdrawal of US nuclear arms from Germany would have "disastrous consequences" for European security.

"In terms of security policy, we will pull the rug from under the Poles' feet, if Germany pulls out of nuclear deterrence," Wolfgang Ischinger told German Press-Agency, dpa, about Poland.

Poland could then insist on the deployment of atomic bombs in its territory, he said.

"An active Polish role in NATO's nuclear deterrent would in turn have consequences in Moscow that I don't even want to think about," he said. “My guess is the consequences would be disastrous. NATO would move even closer to Russia in terms of nuclear power.”

Current German coalition negotiations on a new German government also deal with the question of whether the US should withdraw nuclear weapons from German soil as the Social Democratic (SPD) party and the Greens have campaigned for the pullout in the past.

Earlier this week, a German government spokesman rejected public criticism about statements by Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on atomic deterrence vis-a-vis Russia.

As long as nuclear weapons are understood by some states as a means of military conflict, there is "the need to maintain a nuclear deterrent within the framework of NATO," Steffen Seibert said Monday at a news conference in Berlin.

"That is also stated in the coalition agreement," he added.

The chancellery spokesman was reacting to recent controversial statements by Kramp-Karrenbauer who talked about the possibility of using atomic arms against Russia.

Last week, Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Berlin-based Deutschlandfunk broadcaster: “We have to make it very clear to Russia that in the end – and that is also the deterrent doctrine – we are prepared to use such means so that it has a deterrent effect beforehand and no one gets the idea, for example, the areas over the Baltic States or in the Black Sea to attack NATO partners.”

“That is the core idea of NATO, this alliance, and it will be adapted to the current behavior of Russia. In particular, we see violations of the airspace over the Baltic states, but also increasing attacks around the Black Sea,” the defense minister added.

Kramp-Karrenbauer's statements triggered the reaction of Rolf Muetzenich, head of the Social Democrats in the German parliament, who described them as “irresponsible.”

Muetzenich accused the defense minister of further turning the "escalation screw."

According to German media reports, there are around 20 US nuclear bombs stored at the Buechel airbase in southwestern Germany as a result of NATO's nuclear deterrence doctrine.

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