Why does Europe need its own bomb?



In Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament (EP), a discussion has erupted about the fact that in the current circumstances it is advisable for the European Union to have a nuclear bomb of its own. It was initiated by German representatives in prominent positions in this legislative body.

Thus, Katarina Barley, deputy chairman of the European Parliament and leader of the SPD list in the upcoming June elections to this glorious assembly, said that «on the way to the creation of a European army, it is possible to discuss the topic of its own nuclear warheads in its armaments». Earlier, the leader of the European People’s Party in the EP, CDU member Manfred Weber, called for the creation of a «protective nuclear umbrella» for Europe. He is an old bird: he has been commanding European conservatives in Strasbourg since 2014.

The aggravation arose in connection with a high-profile campaign statement by former President Donald Trump, which he made on February 10 at a rally in South Carolina. Here’s a brief paraphrase of it. A European leader asked him whether, if he returned to the White House, he would provide military support to NATO members whose defense budget would be less than 2 percent of GDP. Trump replied, «You haven’t paid, are you a debtor? In that case, I will not defend your country. I will even encourage Russia to do whatever it wants».

«Strasbourg dreamers» saw in these words almost a threat to encroach on the sacred Article 5 of NATO’s collective defense treaty, which states that an attack on one of the organization’s members will be considered an attack on all of its members. It’s about unconditional support, «including the use of armed force».

Actually, the topic of military nuclearization is «very German». There is, as Lenin once said, «confusion and vacillation» among FRG politicians on this issue. Debates continue unabated, conducted with varying degrees of intensity.

«There are many good reasons why modern Germany has consciously renounced weapons of mass destruction. But all treaty, moral and political obligations can be renegotiated. <…> And that includes thinking about whether (and under what conditions) Germany can become a nuclear power for the sake of strengthening its own security and that of its allies», says Christiana Hacke, a professor of political science at the Bundeswehr University (Hamburg).

The fact that Germany, more than any other country, has all the scientific and technical capabilities to become a new nuclear power in a short period of time adds fuel to the fire.

As well as the fact that Germany already has nuclear weapons on its territory. True, they are American ones. Under the NATO Nuclear sharing program, the Yanks are currently storing 20 tactical bombs at the Luftwaffe air base in Büchel (Rhineland-Palatinate). This tricky concept provides for granting non-nuclear-weaponized members of the alliance the right to use U.S. strategic weapons stationed on their territory. At the same time, the Americans retain control over the codes to activate nuclear warheads. In the fall of 2019, as part of a top-secret operation, all warheads were airlifted overseas for a two-day upgrade. There, they were re-equipped with a more accurate guidance system and returned already under the code B61–12.

There is also a group of politicians who hint at the possibility of an «emergency exit». Among them, for example, is Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP).

They advise a fundamental agreement with France on deep defense integration. In this case, Berlin, which will have to share the expenditures with Paris for the maintenance and development of its nuclear forces, will be able to at least partially shelter under the French umbrella.

So far, in the German «squabbles», a significant preponderance is on the side of those who are categorically against it. Their main argument is Berlin’s international obligations. In 1969, West Germany signed and later ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Even stricter obligations are stipulated by the «Two Plus Four» treaty, which entered into force on March 15, 1991, opening the way to German unity. According to Article 3 of this document, a united Germany renounced the production, possession and disposal of atomic, biological and chemical weapons.

In my opinion, the most accurate answer to the nuclear aspirations of a number of venerable MEPs was given by Karl-Heinz Kamp, an expert of the German Society for Foreign Policy.

«The EU is not yet a military power. We don’t have a common armed forces. We don’t have a common government. But all this would be a prerequisite for a nuclear power. We must have a president, a leader who decides on nuclear weapons. Until we have all this, all these considerations are completely illusory», he said.

Indeed, who will have the right to push the nuclear button?

As for the Federal Republic of Germany, Kamp is more categorical: «A German nuclear power would be something to be dreaded only for historical reasons».