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A German Nuclear Deterrent?

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  • zraver
    Originally posted by Dmowskavitto View Post
    Donald Trump’s questioning of NATO’s credibility has Berlin thinking the unthinkable
    No it doesn't, its all posturing. Germany and the EU are not goign nuclear, the American shield is intact and US combat troops are on the border of Kaliningrad Oblast.

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    Donald Trump’s questioning of NATO’s credibility has Berlin thinking the unthinkable

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  • kato
    New York Times yesterday:

    European Nuclear Weapons Program Would Be Legal, German Review Finds

    A review recently commissioned by the German Parliament has determined that the country could legally finance the British or French nuclear weapons programs in exchange for their protection. The European Union could do the same if it changed its budgeting rules, the study found.

    The German assessment comes after months of discussion in Berlin over whether Europe can still rely on American security assurances, which President Trump has called into question. Some have called for considering, as a replacement, a pan-European nuclear umbrella of existing French and British warheads.

    The assessment provides a legal framework for such a plan. Britain or France, it finds, could legally base nuclear warheads on German soil.

    The document states that “President Trump and his contradictory statements on NATO” have led to fears “that the U.S. could reduce its nuclear commitment” to Europe.

    While the review is only an endorsement of the plan’s legality — not a determination to take action — it is the first indication that such an idea has escalated from informal discussion to official policy-making channels.

    Few analysts believe that Germany or the European Union is on the verge of pursuing a replacement nuclear umbrella. Most German officials still oppose such a plan, which would face steep public opposition and diplomatic hurdles. Even proponents consider it a last resort.

    Nonetheless, analysts say, the review indicates the growing seriousness with which Germany is preparing for the possible loss of the American guarantees that have safeguarded and united European allies since World War II.

    “Someone wanted to see whether this could work,” said Ulrich Kuhn, a German nuclear analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It suggests people consider this a possibility.”

    While few are convinced Germany could overcome its taboo against nuclear weapons anytime soon, the existence of the assessment suggests that under pressure from Mr. Trump and growing Russian aggression, the taboo has eroded to an extent.

    “The fact that they’re asking the question in itself is pretty important,” said Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology political scientist who studies nuclear states.

    “What’s the line? ‘Amateurs worry about strategy, professionals worry about logistics,’ ” Mr. Narang added, saying that the assessment, by evaluating fine-grain legal questions, “is getting into the logistics” of a European nuclear program.

    Germany, the assessment finds, could be granted shared control over deploying those warheads under something called a “dual key” system, an arrangement that currently applies to American warheads based there. This would be intended to signal that the weapons would be used to protect all of Europe.

    The legal review was requested last year by Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker, a former colonel and a foreign policy spokesman with Germany’s governing party. Mr. Kiesewetter’s office said it was unclear why the assessment was made only now, months later.

    Mr. Kuhn suggested that the timing could be related to the French presidential election, which elevated Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European centrist who has advocated closer defensive cooperation between France and Germany.

    Mr. Macron was elected on May 7. The legal review was concluded on May 23. It is unclear how long after that the findings were made public.

    Any version of this plan would likely hinge on French-German cooperation. Britain’s nuclear program is small and submarine-based. Its pending exit from the European Union could also preclude British involvement.

    France’s nuclear program, larger and more advanced, would be better suited to replace American capabilities, particularly the small, battlefield warheads that would be most useful in repelling a potential Russian invasion.

    German financing and basing for the program would be intended to demonstrate its function as a guarantor of European security. Officials in Poland, an informal security leader among Eastern European states, have expressed support in public comments.

    Some versions of the plan, including one floated by Mr. Kiesewetter this winter, would see the European Union co-finance the French nuclear umbrella in order to demonstrate France’s commitment to use the warheads in defense of all member states.

    Still, analysts say that securing legal authority is only a small, initial step, and one that might suggest Germany’s desire to avoid, more than pursue, such a drastic option.

    Mr. Narang compared the document to a review by the Japanese government in the 1960s. Tokyo, fearing the United States might withdraw its protection, issued a report outlining how Japan could build a small nuclear arsenal of its own.

    Mr. Narang said the Japanese study was intended both to dissuade the Americans from withdrawing and to prepare a fallback in case they did. Germany, he added, today faces a similar dilemma.

    While it is unclear whether Japan would have really followed through, the country did develop something called a “turnscrew” capability, which left it only a few months from converting civilian nuclear materials into warheads.

    “These legal findings are part of that insurance hedging,” Mr. Narang said, referring to the technical term for when countries seek alternatives to existing alliances.

    Even if allies have little intention of breaking from the status quo, he added, the act of planning for a worst-case situation makes it easier to imagine and, if necessary, pursue.

    The "review" (here in German) which is meant as an answer to the question "can Germany legally finance French or British nuclear weapons programmes" instead mostly explores the question "why should we do that... and what comes from that legally" - because the "why" is answered as "nuclear sharing". It basically comes to the conclusion that based on the treaties Germany has signed - NPT, 2+4 etc - as long as Germany doesn't exclusively own them it can procure nuclear armament in such a joint fashion. It then explores how such a co-financing could go - such as that if the European Union were to finance the nuclear weapons programme of a member state (a possible solution discussed) it'd have to change its funding framework for military procurement, meaning a drawn-out decision process involving other nations.

    The last paragraph in the "review" - the finishing note - is throwing up the "why" question again because Germany is getting nuclear protection for free right now; while NATO doesn't provide for such (NATO Article 5 is mentioned... in about a quarter sentence, before going on to the real thing, that is: ), the EU mutual defense clause mandatorily obligates nuclear weapons usage as ultima ratio to defend Germany through French -and, explicitly noted "until Brexit, British" - nuclear weapons at the very least for a second-strike scenario, since both countries have neither requested nor received any special treatment regarding nuclear weapons and the mutual defense clause for the Lisbon treaty.

    The "review" is a sliiight bit controversial in my opinion, mostly because it forwards traditional MAD which raises my eyebrows a bit. In addition, the way it talks about a "first strike scenario" (literal translation) leaves it a bit nebulous whether it means responding to a first strike on us or a first strike nuclear weapons usage scenario by us.
    Last edited by kato; 06 Jul 17,, 22:43.

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  • kato
    The folly of a German Bomb

    Shortly after the US presidential election in November 2016, several opinion pieces in German newspapers argued that Berlin should acquire nuclear weapons. Given Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, and particularly his talk of NATO obsolescence, the authors suggested that the nuclear assurances the United States had provided for nearly seven decades were no longer credible.

    Though claiming to offer a purely rational analysis of the Trumpian new world order, these authors not only ignored German public opinion, long-standing treaty commitments, and the reality of Germany’s nuclear infrastructure, but also the lack of strategic utility for nuclear weapons within Germany’s foreign and security policy. As an instrument of force, a German nuclear weapon would be an impractical approach to deterrence, defense, and other military and political objectives.

    The case for German nuclear weapons. According to Maximilian Terhalle, a German political scientist currently teaching in Britain, Trump’s vocal disengagement from European security creates a strategic imbalance in light of Russia’s conventional and nuclear superiority in the European theater. It is urgent, Terhalle argued, that Berlin invest in a credible nuclear deterrent, for the sake of national and European security. Waiting for a clearer formulation of US policy regarding Europe, or integrating British and French nuclear weapons into a European structure, would be insufficient options, Terhalle wrote. (More recently, he made the same argument in Foreign Policy.)

    Similarly, Berthold Kohler, editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest dailies, suggested that the rise of China and Russia, and the announcement to reconsider US commitments to European and East Asian security, signal a continental shift in world politics. Even if the new US administration does not follow through on its rhetoric, it has already weakened US credibility. In either case, increasing defense expenditures, reconstituting conscription, and acquiring a nuclear capability would be critical to ensure German and European security in the face of a resurgent Russia and an ambivalent America, Kohler argued.

    International publications picked up on the debate. The Economist published an article with the provocative title “Eine deutsche Atombombe” (“a German atomic bomb”). The Financial Times, too, felt compelled to discuss the “unthinkable on Germany going nuclear.” Roderich Kiesewetter, a foreign policy spokesman in parliament for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats and a former Bundeswehr colonel, told Reuters: “If the United States no longer wants to provide this guarantee, Europe still needs nuclear protection for deterrent purposes.”

    Most German lawmakers, however, still agree that German nuclear weapons, for a variety of reasons, would be a bad idea. Nevertheless, Kiesewetter’s remarks signal a broadening of the debate among German lawmakers about “whether and how their nation should develop more traditional forms of power.”

    Barriers to going nuclear. Despite flirtations with nuclear weapons in the early days of the Federal Republic of Germany, and attempts to normalize tactical nuclear capabilities, for decades public opinion has been strongly opposed to nuclear proliferation. Currently, 93 percent of Germans support an international legal ban on nuclear weapons, and 85 percent want the roughly 20 remaining US warheads removed from Germany.

    In fact, opposition to all things nuclear has become something of a tradition in the country. In the early 1980s, massive public protests against the deployment of medium-range missiles shook West German society. In the early 2000s, Germany made the decision to gradually phase out the civil use of nuclear energy. Though ultimately unsuccessful, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in 2010, vocally demanded that Washington relocate its stockpile. In this context, any government politician who seriously advocates for a German nuclear bomb would risk considerable political capital and electoral prospects.

    Germany’s international legal obligations also stand in the way of national nuclear weapons. On three occasions, the Federal Republic renounced their acquisition and possession: with its accession to the Western European Union in 1954, its signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1969, and the Two Plus Four Agreement of 1990, which formalized the reunification of Germany.

    If Germany decided to leave the NPT, it would join the only other country that has renounced the treaty: North Korea. This would not only come at great reputational cost, as a break with Germany’s long-standing subscription to the transformative and constraining power of international law, but would likely encourage proliferation. If a wealthy, powerful, and reputable country like Germany needs the bomb, why should others not follow?

    There are also logistical barriers to going nuclear. With the decision to switch off nuclear power production in Germany, critical infrastructure has gradually been demolished. Though several small research reactors remain in use, eight of Germany’s industrial nuclear reactors were decommissioned shortly after the Fukushima incident in 2011. By 2022, all remaining power plants will follow. Rebuilding the infrastructure to maintain the full fuel cycle would take decades and come too late to respond to any immediate security threats. A credible nuclear deterrent would also cost German taxpayers trillions of euros, particularly if it were to be extended over other European Union member states.

    The utility of nuclear weapons. Despite these serious hurdles, could Germany gain from nuclear weapons? Brandeis University professor Robert J. Art suggests that military force has four functions. As an instrument of force, nuclear weapons can be used for deterrence, compellence, defense, and swaggering.

    Nuclear weapons cannot be used for compellence and defense—to induce a change in an adversary’s behavior or to ward off an attack—without actually detonating them. It is hard to conceive of Germany using nuclear weapons under any circumstances, particularly considering that Germany’s armies ravaged its neighbors twice in the twentieth century. A defensive nuclear strike against Russian forces advancing through Poland, for instance, is simply unimaginable.

    Though deterrence and swaggering do not presuppose the use of nuclear weapons in combat—deterrence fails when nuclear weapons are employed—the utility of these functions is undermined by the lack of credible scenarios in which Germany would use nuclear weapons. The proponents of a German nuclear capability fail to make explicit what purpose the bomb is intended to serve, so a national deterrent lacks practicality. And if Germany were to extend its deterrence over its European partners, an age-old question would haunt the partnership: Would Berlin take the risk of devastating German cities so that Baltic cities such as Riga, Tallinn, and Vilnius might remain free? Terhalle, in particular, fails to explain why German nuclear weapons would be a more credible extended deterrent than French or British ones.

    Lastly, developing nuclear weapons for the purpose of swaggering, which Art calls “the most egoistic” function of the bomb, would undermine 70 years of German efforts to transform international relations through law, self-restraint, and Germany’s perception of itself as a normative power. An attempt to enhance a leader’s power and prestige might explain why nuclear weapons are a particularly prominent topic among Germany’s right, however.

    Even though commentators such as Terhalle and Kohler consider themselves part of an intellectual avant-garde, with strategic insights others are too naïve to appreciate, their views rightfully remain at the fringe of German foreign-policy circles. A German nuclear weapon has no strategic utility: First use is impractical for compellence and defense, and deterrence and swaggering suffer from a lack of credibility. Furthermore, public opinion, international law, and logistics are nearly insurmountable barriers for any German politician proposing a nuclear arsenal.

    That does not mean that Germany should not invest more heavily in its conventional forces, push for genuine European defense integration, start thinking about deterrence in cyberspace and, as Ulrich Kühn and Tristan Volpe recently proposed, play the role of interlocutor for a renewal of the transatlantic partnership—these are areas in which German leadership would be welcome. But Germany should not go nuclear.

    Written by some guy who just got his degree in some random topic from some random US university.

    And now for the authors with somewhat better standing:

    Keine Atombombe, Bitte: Why Germany Should Not Go Nuclear

    The election of U.S. President Donald Trump last November confounded Berlin. What, German politicians, policymakers, and journalists wondered, should they make of Trump’s vague or even hostile stances toward the EU and NATO or his apparent embrace of Russia? Some hoped that Trump meant to push NATO members to spend more on defense but would, in the end, leave the long-standing U.S. guarantee of European security intact. Others, less optimistic, argued that the days when Germany could rely on the United States for its defense were over—and that the country must start looking out for itself.

    Those fears have given new life to an old idea: a European nuclear deterrent. Just days after Trump’s election, Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said that if the United States no longer wanted to provide a nuclear shield, France and the United Kingdom should combine their nuclear arsenals into an EU deterrent, financed through a joint EU military budget. Then, in February, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, spoke out in favor of the idea of the eu as a “nuclear superpower,” as long as any EU deterrent matched Russian capabilities.

    Some German commentators even suggested that those proposing a British-French deterrent under the auspices of the EU didn’t go far enough. Berthold Kohler, one of the publishers of the influential conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, argued that the British and French arsenals were too weak to take on Russia. He suggested that Germany consider “an indigenous nuclear deterrent which could ward off doubts about America’s guarantees.” Other German analysts, such as Thorsten Benner, head of the Global Public Policy Institute, in Berlin, and Maximilian Terhalle, a scholar of international relations, have come to the same conclusion. “Germany needs nuclear weapons,” Terhalle wrote in Foreign Policy in April.

    For now, those calling for a German bomb are a fringe minority. For decades, Germany has stood as one of the world’s staunchest supporters of nuclear nonproliferation and global disarmament. In February, a spokesperson for Merkel told the press, “There are no plans for nuclear armament in Europe involving the federal government.” She and others evidently recognize that such plans are a bad idea: a German arsenal would destabilize EU-Russian relations and heighten the risk that other countries would attempt to go nuclear.

    But even though Germany’s current nuclear flirtation may reflect nothing more than a passing reaction to Trump’s presidency, it reveals a deeper problem: insecurity in Berlin, caused by years of meandering U.S. policy toward Russia and Europe. To solve this problem, Germany and the United States must work together. Merkel’s government should encourage the EU to coordinate more effectively on defense. The Trump administration, meanwhile, should double down on the U.S. commitment to the success of the EU and NATO while also pushing for broader negotiations with Russia over the future of European security.

    (rest paywalled at Foreign Affairs)

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  • kato
    They omitted the best quote from Gabriel in that meeting: "I don't even know where we'd park all those aircraft carriers that we'd have to buy to spend 70 billion on the Bundeswehr."

    He also compared the 70 billion to France's 40 billion. And noted that those 40 billion included nukes.

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  • troung
    Nuclear weapons, ehh...
    World News | Fri Mar 31, 2017 | 12:44pm EDT

    Germany balks at Tillerson call for more European NATO spending

    By Lesley Wroughton and Robert-Jan Bartunek | BRUSSELS

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reassured his nervous European counterparts over Washington's commitment to NATO on Friday and pressed them again to spend more on defense, triggering a rebuke from Germany.

    Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was neither "reachable nor desirable" for Germany to spend the agreed NATO target of two percent of member states' economic output on defense. NATO allies have until 2024 to do that.

    "Two percent would mean military expenses of some 70 billion euros. I don't know any German politician who would claim that is reachable nor desirable," Gabriel told the first meeting of NATO foreign ministers attended by Tillerson.

    "The United States will realize it is better to talk about better spending instead of more spending," he said, noting that humanitarian, development and economic aid to stabilize countries and regions should also count.

    Tillerson said allies will need to pay up or outline plans for meeting that target when NATO leaders meet on May 25 for the first top-level summit of the alliance to be attended by U.S. President Donald Trump.

    Trump has criticized NATO as "obsolete" and suggested Washington's security guarantees for European allies could be conditional on them spending more on their own defense. He has also said he wants NATO to do more to fight terrorism.

    "Our goal should be to agree at the May leaders meeting that by the end of the year all allies will have either met the pledge guidelines or will have developed plans that clearly articulate how...the pledge will be fulfilled," Tillerson said.

    "Allies must demonstrate by their actions that they share U.S. government's commitment."

    In Berlin, German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the government was committed to increasing defense spending and would continue to do so "because we know it is necessary and makes sense to further strengthen our armed forces".

    U.S. defense expenditure makes up about 70 percent of the total NATO allies' defense spending. Only four European NATO members - Estonia, Greece, Poland and Britain - meet the two-percent target.

    NATO head Jens Stoltenberg rejected Gabriel's call to include non-military spending toward the goal, but said Germany was moving "in the right direction" with more military spending after years of cuts.

    He said NATO ministers on Friday discussed national plans for arriving at the target as they prepared for the May summit.

    In London, Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that other European NATO allies must "raise their game, and those failing to meet the two-percent commitment... should at least agree to year-on-year real terms increases."


    Related Coverage
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    Tillerson did however offer assurances of Washington's commitment to NATO during his brief stop in Brussels, although U.S. officials said he did not have time for one-on-one meetings, which are customary during such gatherings.

    His initial decision to skip his first meeting with NATO foreign ministers had added to questions about the Trump administration's commitment. The meeting was later rescheduled and he attended on Friday.

    "The United States is committed to ensuring NATO has the capabilities to support our collective defense," Tillerson said. "We will uphold the agreements we have made to defend our allies."

    Tillerson said NATO was fundamental to countering Russian aggression in Ukraine. A meeting on Thursday between ambassadors from NATO and Russia called on Moscow to do more to rein in the Moscow-allied separatists battling Kiev's forces there.

    Stoltenberg said ties between European NATO members and the United States were "rock solid".

    He said "fair burden sharing to keep the trans-atlantic bond strong" and "stepping up NATO efforts to project stability and fight terrorism" were on the agenda on Friday as the bloc seeks to respond to the new, harsher tone from across the Atlantic.

    (Additional reporting by Tom Koerkemeier in Brussels, Andrea Shalal in Berlin and Kylie MacLellan in London; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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  • SteveDaPirate
    Originally posted by Motti
    If Germany decides to go nuclear, or even dares plan about doing it, the US will resort to mass destabilization the German society.
    Do you have a source or theory on why you think the US do that?

    The main US interest in Germany is as a counterweight to Russia. The French have offered Germany a stake in their own nuclear weapons program a couple of times without the US going "ballistic". (sorry I couldn't help myself)

    I don't see huge US pressure for France or the UK to give up their weapons, and the US has all but given Germany around 100 nukes to use as they deem appropriate in the event of an attack on NATO.

    A German deterrent would shore up the biggest disparity between Russian and German military power, making them more effective at the primary role the US wants them to play.

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  • kato
    Originally posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    Of course, Germany also has the financial resources to just buy the materials they'd need, and some existing nuclear powers with little stake in European politics would have great difficulty in turning down a generous check. So it may not be all that much of an obstacle.
    According to the IAEA, as of the end of 2015 (last report) there are 30 kg of HEU belonging to the European Union stored in Germany plus another 300 kg in research reactors (mostly the FRM-II research reactor). FRM-II uses 93% enriched weapons-grade HEU (imported that way from France), with the stated amounts used in it being enough - depending on weapon type and sophistication - for building anywhere between five and fifty bombs.

    The use of weapons-grade HEU in FRM-II has been considered a political concern, and technically there is a legislative requirement - since 2001, three years before it actually went live - to switch it over to high-density fuel instead (50% enriched HEU). FRM-II is kept operating with weapons-grade fuel on a temporary deadline till 2018 though, and due to a lack of availability of high-density fuel it is likely this will be extended for another decade or so.

    Originally posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    Judging by the Trident II's test record of 161 successes and fewer than 10 failures since 1989
    For the Royal Navy it's 1-failure-in-6-launches since 2000.

    Originally posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that funding levels have been less than ideal with the UK focused on capitalizing the QE class.
    It's more like they're capitalizing on the subs, casting anything else aside. The two carriers only have a joint full programme cost of 6.2 billion pounds plus another billion for the air wing, the Vanguard replacement signed off last year has an allocated programme cost of 41 billion pounds plus 250 million for maintaining the current missiles until the 2060s (!), with 4.8 billion already spent. Procurement cost only; operating cost comes out somewhat in favour of the carriers but not at the same 1:6 margin.

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  • SteveDaPirate
    Originally posted by kato View Post
    If they manage to launch those Tridents without activating their apparent "homing for home" function.
    That would be terribly ironic if we got nuked by our special relationship ally, firing an American made missile.

    The inability to ever live down the jokes about revenge for dumping perfectly good tea in the harbor might be worse than the lingering fallout.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 07 Mar 17,, 21:54.

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  • SteveDaPirate
    Originally posted by kato View Post
    There's civil nuclear research in Germany beyond power production reactors btw. Sometimes with cars with interesting license plates entering or exiting. If you know what i mean.
    I assumed research reactors would continue to operate even if the larger civil plants were eventually shut down, but I don't know what volume of material they'd be capable of providing if Germany were to suddenly initiate a crash weapons development program. Of course, Germany also has the financial resources to just buy the materials they'd need, and some existing nuclear powers with little stake in European politics would have great difficulty in turning down a generous check. So it may not be all that much of an obstacle.

    Originally posted by kato View Post
    An arrangement with the UK, i.e. outside the EU, is pretty much a non-item, especially given the abysmal state of British deterrence (say things like... failed Trident tests going for the wrong continent, the whole SSNs currently being out of action, blueprints of SSNs appearing on auction, SSBN reactors leaking radioactivity...).
    I believe the conclusion from the test was that the Trident II was given bad telemetry data, and the fault was either due to manual data entry or a software issue. Unfortunately I doubt we'll get any clarity on specifics.

    Judging by the Trident II's test record of 161 successes and fewer than 10 failures since 1989, it does seem as though it's more likely there was an issue with the targeting data rather than some problem with the missile itself. I'm not all that familiar with how well the Vanguards are being maintained, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that funding levels have been less than ideal with the UK focused on capitalizing the QE class.

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  • kato
    If they manage to launch those Tridents without activating their apparent "homing for home" function.

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  • SteveDaPirate
    Originally posted by zara View Post
    I don't think the British Deterrent is independent. I think it depends on the Americans to launch it somehow, so that's not much use to Germany.
    The ~120 B-61s stored at RAF Lakenheath are US warheads stationed in the UK that won't function without the American codes to unlock them. They were supposedly removed recently, but I don't know that they were all taken out or that they won't be back at some point.

    The warheads aboard the four Vanguard class subs were built domestically and are the UKs to do with as they please.

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  • Doktor
    So, Trump wins.

    EU will spend more on defense and US will cut the costs and redistribute the cash at home projects (because he is not likely to cut the defense budget).

    Just wonder what will happen with the ABM shield in Poland and Romania.

    On a side note, I can imagine a Greek officer in charge of the nuke codes given orders to launch to Moscow. Oh, the horror.

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  • zara
    I don't think the British Deterrent is independent. I think it depends on the Americans to launch it somehow, so that's not much use to Germany.
    Even so, the Article 50 bill that the PM is currently trying to get through parliament contains a provision to leave EURATOM so that may have implications.
    The future of the British deterrent looks bleak if Scotland leaves the UK, and a post-Brexit economy will unlikely be able to afford it in the long term.

    I guess the cheapest and easiest route is for European nations to fulfill their NATO budget commitments, though its questionable whether that would pacify the Trump administration.
    Last edited by zara; 07 Mar 17,, 21:27.

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  • kato
    Here's the Spiegel take on it btw, in English - written early December 2016:

    Elephant in the Room

    Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win

    For decades, American nuclear weapons have served as a guarantor of European security. But what happens if Donald Trump casts doubt on that atomic shield? A debate has already opened in Berlin and Brussels over alternatives to the U.S. deterrent. By SPIEGEL Staff

    The issue is so secret that it isn't even listed on any daily agenda at NATO headquarters. When military officials and diplomats speak about it in Brussels, they meet privately and in very small groups -- sometimes only with two or three people at a time. There is a reason why signs are displayed in the headquarters reading, "no classified conversation."

    And this issue is extremely sensitive. The alliance wants to avoid a public discussion at any cost. Such a debate, one diplomat warns, could trigger an "avalanche." The foundations of the trans-Atlantic security architecture would be endangered if this "Pandora's box" were to be opened.

    Great Uncertainty

    The discussion surrounds nuclear deterrent. For decades, the final line of defense for Europe against possible Russian aggression has been provided by the American nuclear arsenal. But since Donald Trump's election as the 45th president of the United States, officials in Berlin and Brussels are no longer certain that Washington will continue to hold a protective hand over Europe.

    It isn't yet clear what foreign policy course the new administration will take -- that is, if it takes one at all. It could be that Trump will run US foreign policy under the same principle with which he operates his corporate empire: a maximum level of unpredictability.

    With his disparaging statements during the campaign about NATO being "obsolete," Trump has already created doubts about the Americans' loyalty to the alliance. Consequently, Europe has begun preparing for a future in which it is likely to have to pick up a much greater share of the costs for its security.

    But what happens if the president-elect has an even more fundamental shift in mind for American security policy? What if he questions the nuclear shield that provided security to Europe during the Cold War?

    For more than 60 years, Germany entrusted its security to NATO and its leading power, the United States. Without a credible deterrent, the European NATO member states would be vulnerable to possible threats from Russia. It would be the end of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

    Could the French or British Step In?

    In European capitals, officials have been contemplating the possibility of a European nuclear deterrent since Trump's election. The hurdles -- military, political and international law -- are massive and there are no concrete intentions or plans. Still, French diplomats in Brussels have already been discussing the issue with their counterparts from other member states: Could the French and the British, who both possess nuclear arsenals, step in to provide protection for other countries like Germany?

    "It's good that this is finally being discussed," says Jan Techau, director of the Holbrooke Forum at the American Academy in Berlin. "The question of Europe's future nuclear defense is the elephant in the room in the European security debate. If the United States' nuclear security guarantee disappears, then it will be important to clarify who will protect us in the future. And how do we prevent ourselves from becoming blackmailable over the nuclear issue in the future?"

    An essay in the November issue of Foreign Affairs argues that if Trump seriously questions the American guarantees, Berlin will have to consider establishing a European nuclear deterrent on the basis of the French and British capabilities. Germany's respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, meanwhile, even contemplated the "unthinkable" in an editorial: a German bomb.

    'The Last Thing Germany Needs Now'

    Politicians in Berlin want to prevent a debate at all costs. "A public debate over what happens if Trump were to change the American nuclear doctrine is the very last thing that Germany needs right now," says Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference. "It would be a catastrophic mistake if Berlin of all places were to start that kind of discussion. Might Germany perhaps actually want a nuclear weapon, despite all promises to the contrary? That would provide fodder for any anti-German campaign."

    The debate however, is no longer relegated the relatively safe circles of think tanks and foreign policy publications. In an interview that gained attention internationally in mid-November, Roderich Kiesewetter, the chairman for the conservative Christian Democrats on the Foreign Policy Committee in German parliament proposed a French-British nuclear shield in the event Trump calls into question American protection for Europe. "The US nuclear shield and nuclear security guarantees are imperative for Europe," he told Reuters. "If the United States no longer wants to provide this guarantee, Europe still needs nuclear protection for deterrent purposes."

    Last weekend, Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, said in an interview that providing a nuclear shield for Europe was in America's "security policy interest." Besides, he said, "two EU member states possess nuclear weapons."

    Unpopular and Politically Explosive

    Kiesewetter argues that Europe must prepare for all eventualities. "There can be no limits placed on our security debate," he says. The CDU security policy expert is a former colonel in the German armed forces and also did stints at both NATO headquarters in Brussels and at the alliance's military headquarters in Mons, Belgium. After Trump's election, he spoke not only to French and British diplomats, but also explored views within the German government.

    He says he spoke with Christoph Heusgen, Merkel's security adviser, and with Defense Ministry Policy Director Gésa von Geyr. Kiesewetter says the issue is not one that either the Chancellery or the Defense Ministry is taking up. At the same time, he says, he also didn't get the impression that his ideas had been dismissed as fantasy either.

    It's understandable that the German government wants to quickly end the debate. The issue is politically explosive and would also be highly unpopular. In polls, more than 90 percent of Germans have opposed the idea of Germany possessing its own nuclear bomb. The American nuclear shield has so far offered Germans the luxury of standing on the right side of the moral debate even as Washington guarantees their security.

    'The Wrong Message'

    Officials in Brussels also aren't thrilled by the statements coming out of Berlin. "The fact that these considerations have been made public is deeply concerning," a diplomat representing one NATO member state says. "It would send the wrong message to America but also the grotesquely wrong message to Russia," says Ischinger. He warns that the message cannot be sent to Washington that Europe is in the process of exploring alternatives to the American protective shield.

    But military officers and diplomats are addressing the issue inside NATO headquarters. One diplomat says that these ideas have been circulating "informally and off-the-record" inside NATO headquarters for a few months now. "The statements made by Mr. Kiesewetter reflect the concerns that exist everywhere in Europe over what Trump's inauguration will mean for US engagement and its strategy on nuclear deterrent."

    On the nuclear question, Trump has attracted attention primarily for off-the-cuff remarks he made during the campaign. "If we have nuclear weapons, why can't we use them?" he allegedly said during a foreign policy briefing in the summer.

    During the campaign, he also toyed with the idea of eliminating the US nuclear shield that provides protection to Japan and South Korea. Essentially, he bluntly suggested that the two Asian nations ought to develop their own nuclear weapons. Europeans have worried ever since that a similar threat could be directed at them.

    Such comments come at a time when Moscow is more focused on its role as a nuclear power than it ever has been since the end of the Cold War. Like the United States, Russia is currently in the process of modernizing its nuclear arsenal. For a few years now, veiled threats about Moscow's nuclear arsenal have become part of the standard repertoire in President Vladimir Putin's rhetoric.

    The British and French Deterrents

    Europe would face very high hurdles if it sought to create its own nuclear shield. Why would Britain, currently in the process of leaving the European Union, even agree to it? And why would the French give the Germans any say when it comes to their Force de Frappe deterrent? Both have allegedly declined to consider the notion in initial probes in Brussels. But there's yet a bigger issue. Even if they were to cooperate, would the nuclear arsenal held by European nuclear powers even be sufficient to guarantee a nuclear deterrent?

    Likely, yes. Taken together, Britain and France may only have 10 percent as many nuclear weapons as the Americans, but their second-strike capability is strong enough to effectively deter potential attackers.

    The nuclear shield the United States has created for NATO member states is comprised of two components: The strategic element consists of hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles, a massive bomber fleet and around a dozen Ohio-class submarines. Each submarine has over 20 Trident II (D5) missiles with multiple warheads at its disposal.

    The tactical element specially designed for a European theater of war is comprised of a little more than 180 B61-3 and -4 aircraft-carried missiles that are stationed at six air bases in five different NATO member states. Up to 20 nuclear bombs are stored in the village of Büchel, Germany, deployable on German Tornado fighter jets.

    Together, France and Britain have around 450 nuclear warheads. France uses four strategic ballistic missile submarines, with each capable of carrying 16 missiles with four to six multiple warheads. The country also has around 50 nuclear strike-capable Mirage 2000N and Rafale fighter jets that are each equipped with nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

    Britain has four strategic Vanguard-class missile submarines that also hold Trident II (D5) missiles that can carry up to 160 nuclear warheads. Technologically, however, the British are dependent on the Americans.

    'Sufficient for Defending Germany'

    "Viewed entirely from a military perspective, the nuclear weapons held by France and Britain would likely be sufficient for defending Germany," says the American Academy's Techau. The fact that they don't have the same number of nuclear weapons as Russia doesn't really matter. "The second-strike capability, which is decisive for deterrence, exists."

    Politically, though, things get more complicated. France has always viewed its nuclear capability as a national asset and has never placed its weapons under a NATO mandate. It coordinates with Brussels, but would decide independently of the alliance on any potential deployment of its nuclear weapons.

    Even during the Cold War, several political efforts were made to establish German-French nuclear cooperation, but nothing ever came of them.

    Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss had hoped to work together with Paris. But Charles de Gaulle immediately halted the secret project as soon as he was elected in 1958.

    Later, two years after he got voted out of office, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) also proposed a deal. He suggested that France expand its nuclear deterrent to include Germany. In exchange, West Germany would offer its "capital and financial strength" in order to help finance the French nuclear weapons program.

    France Shunned Germany

    Helmut Kohl, who was chancellor at the time, dismissed the idea as an "intellectual gimmick." A secret protocol dating from December 1985 -- and only made public at the beginning of this year -- showed why Kohl's distrust had been justified. In it, French President François Mitterrand admits to Kohl that France would be unwilling to "provide Germany with nuclear protection." He said France's nuclear potential could only serve to protect "a small territory" -- in other words, France. If Paris were to extend its protection, the French leader said, it would expose his country to a "lethal threat." In other words, Mitterrand did not want to risk dying to defend Germany.

    Even if France were to change its position, it would be tricky under international law for Germany to participate militarily in a European nuclear shield. Whether or not Germany's participation in NATO's nuclear shield is permitted under international law has already been the subject of considerable debate. An actual German bomb would violate the terms of both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Two Plus Four Agreement, the treaty which resulted in Germany's reunification.

    By becoming a signatory to the NPT in 1975, the Germans committed "not to receive the transfer from any transferor of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly." During negotiations over German reunification in 1990, then-Chancellor Kohl also affirmed Germany's "renunciation" of the manufacture, possession and control of nuclear weapons. The provision became an integral part of the Two Plus Four Agreement.

    A European Nuclear Power?

    But the Germans always left a few loopholes open. In diplomatic notes attached to German NPT ratification documents, the government in Bonn stated at the time it had signed it "convinced that no stipulation in the treaty can be construed to hinder the further development European unification, especially the creation of a European Union with appropriate capabilities." Wolfgang Mischnick, parliamentary floor leader of the Free Democratic Party, which shared power with Kohl's Christian Democrats at the time of reunification, publicly clarified what that meant during a session of the Bundestag on February 20, 1974: "It is still possible to develop a European nuclear power," he said.

    Forty years later the issue is actually now being raised for the first time. With it also comes the question of the degree to which Europeans actually trust each other. The real test will come if the United States decides to withdraw its nuclear support from Europe. Then Europeans would be forced to ask whether Paris and London were prepared to guarantee security for Germany and other Europeans. And also: Would Germans place their trust in a nuclear shield provided by their European partners?

    For France, which always found Europe's reliance on NATO to be suspect, a European nuclear shield could also present an opportunity. A nuclear arsenal under French leadership, but large parts of which were financed by the Germans, would place the economically weakened country in a dominant position in terms of European security.

    By Konstantin von Hammerstein, Christiane Hoffmann, Peter Müller, Otfried Nassauer, Christoph Schult and Klaus Wiegrefe

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