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15 Feb, 2024 14:57

EU nuclear arsenal ‘unrealistic’ – top German policymaker

The bloc should instead prioritize building a common European army and cyber-defense system, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann said
EU nuclear arsenal ‘unrealistic’ – top German policymaker

The EU should not focus on trying to create its own nuclear deterrent and instead ought to prioritize other means of ensuring its security, the head of Germany’s Bundestag Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, said in an interview on Wednesday.

Her comments come after several German officials suggested that the bloc needs its own nuclear weaponry, after US presidential candidate Donald Trump warned last week that Washington would not protect “delinquent” NATO members who do not contribute enough to the bloc.

France is currently the only EU country with its own nuclear arsenal, while several other member nations, such as Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, host US nuclear weapons that remain under the control of Washington.

Strack-Zimmermann has argued that developing an independent European nuclear deterrent is an unrealistic proposal. “This is ultimately an evolved, sophisticated system in which the whole of [Western] Europe must be protected,” she said in an interview with German media, as cited by Politico, adding that “most people don’t know what that means – apart from the costs.”

She also pointed out that creating such a system would require the whole of Western Europe to work together more closely and would also necessitate getting both France and the UK to “sit at the same table” and to “detach from the EU and think European.”

Instead, Strack-Zimmermann suggested that the EU should work to convince the US of the importance of remaining involved in European security and that it needs to prioritize building a common European army and cyber-defense system.

Following Trump’s ‘pay your bills’ comment, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner stated in an op-ed that the EU must “stick to nuclear deterrence” to ensure its security and that it has to rely less on the US and instead expand the strategic capabilities already possessed by France and the UK.

Katarina Barley, the leading MEP from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), has also insisted that the EU can “no longer rely on” the US providing European NATO members with its nuclear umbrella and that a “European bomb” could become a step in the creation of a “European army.”

Leading European Parliament candidate from Germany’s Die Linke party, Martin Schirdewa, meanwhile, advised against nuclear proliferation in response to Trump’s comments. “More atomic bombs will not make the world safer,” he stressed, arguing that Germany should instead strive towards signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.