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Time for nuclear sharing to end via Open Democracy

You have to keep threatening to use nuclear weapons to make nuclear deterrence work. A view from Germany on the planned deployment of new US nuclear weapons.

It was already announced some years ago, but last week Germany woke up to the fact that new US nuclear weapons are actually going to be deployed at its base in Büchel. Frontal 21, a programme on the second main TV channel reported last Tuesday that preparation for this deployment was due to begin at the German air force base. The runway is being improved, perimeter fences strengthened, new maintenance trucks arriving and the Tornado delivery aircraft will get new software.

It is a little known fact: Germany (and four other European countries) host nuclear weapons as part of NATO “nuclear sharing”. This means that in a nuclear attack the US can load its bombs onto German (or Belgian, Italian, Turkish and Dutch) aircraft and the pilots of those countries will drop them on an enemy target. This arrangement pre-dates the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which explicitly disallows any transfer of nuclear weapons from a nuclear weapon state to a non-nuclear weapon state, thus undermining the spirit of the treaty.

This new nuclear bomb – the B61-12 – is intended to replace all its older versions and be able to destroy more targets than previous models. It is touted by the nuclear laboratories as an “all-in-one” bomb, a “smart” bomb, that does not simply get tossed out of an aircraft, but can be guided and hit its target with great precision using exactly the right amount of explosive strength to only destroy what needs to be destroyed. Sound good?

Not to us – a guided nuclear bomb with mini-nuke capability could well lower the threshold for use. And the use of any kind of nuclear weapon would lead to the use of more nuclear weapons – this we know from the policies and planning of all nuclear weapon states.

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This is the moment where nuclear weapon-free countries need to call out for a ban on nuclear weapons to stop this madness. It is also the right time for nuclear co-dependents, like Germany, to make up its mind to give its nuclear dependency up.

Deploying new nuclear weapons is forbidden by the NPT, which obligates its members to end the arms race. The transfer of nuclear weapons from the US to Germany and any plans to do so also undermine the NPT. As a responsible member state of this important treaty, it is time to denounce nuclear weapons and to join the international community of nuclear weapon-free countries that is signing the ‘Humanitarian Pledge’, calling for the legal gap to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons to be closed. Time for Germany to show some real leadership for nuclear disarmament.

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