US President Trump announced to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF) with Russia. The Treaty put an end to the stationing of land-based intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe. It is reassuring that both sides have announced that they are seeking negotiations now. The aim of these negotiations must be to uphold the general prohibition of intermediate range nuclear missiles (“zero-solution”) in Europe, now and in future.
The INF Treaty protects Europe and especially Germany since more than 30 years from being the stage of a threatening nuclear arms race. Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbatschownegotiated the Treaty at the end of the 1980s.
It cannot be overseen: The deep mistrust of the Cold war years is back. Russia and the United States accuse each other of violating the INF, that they develop or make combat ready new land based nuclear weapon systems. New intermediate range missiles will have even less warning time than the systems of the 1980s, the very weapons against which millions of people took to the streets in peaceful manifestations. This increases the risk of an unintended nuclear confrontation due to errors and miscalculations.
The announcement also puts at risk all other nuclear disarmament treaties between Russia and the U.S., like the START treaty on nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. China is also increasing its nuclear arsenal, and many other countries in the world think about acquiring nuclear weapons. The world is heading with lightning speed into a new nuclear arms race. With lightning speed the world is heading towards a renewed arms race.
If we cannot stop this looming nuclear spiral now, Europe, and Germany, will be the setting of this contest again. It is hard to imagine a more important question to us then the question how to prevent a renewed nuclear arms race in Europe.
What is needed now are European Initiatives for a re-entry into enhanced arms control as a first major step. Mutual arms control – the insight into the strategic and actual military arsenals – is an instrument used when times are bad, when mistrust rules. A re-entry into arms-control is important to rebuild trust.
And we need new initiatives for nuclear and conventional disarmament. Instead, demands for increased military spending are voiced in Europe and internationally. The Federal Republic of Germany stance was always characterized by the dual intent to ensure national defence-capability and deterrence in the framework of NATO on the one hand, and the offer for dialog and the will for détente, arms control and disarmament on the other.
Today, a strong voice that is seeking to bring back the seemingly utopian – disarmament and common security instead of armament, demarcations and enmity – into reality. Germany and Europe must be this voice now. The voice for disarmament and common security.
The initial signatories of this call have as social democrats, and together with many others and beyond political party lines successfully stood up for arms control, détente, and disarmament. Today, we want that this success is not jeopardized. We are calling for your support of this effort.