Will Germany float nuclear arms plan?

10:29 05.03.2024 •

German minister of defence Boris Pistorius.
Photo: Bundeswehr

Berlin could be moving away from its historic reliance on American nuclear weapons. Reports in the English-language press suggest that German defence officials are quietly contacting their British and French NATO counterparts to prepare an alternative to the American nuclear umbrella, ‘European Conservative’ writes with concern.

Potential American disengagement from Europe has put pro-NATO governments on edge across Europe. Unease about future changes at the White House is now driving the German government to formulate plans for obtaining nuclear weapons. Senior members of the centre-right CDU and ruling SPD call for a common European nuclear deterrent, ending sole reliance on the U.S.

German elites are still reeling from comments made by Trump on the campaign trail this month saying he would not respect Article 5 commitments to defend a NATO member under attack unless the country had fulfilled its financial obligations to the alliance, adding to calls for a more autonomous European pillar to NATO.

Currently governed by a disastrous liberal-left government under Chancellor Scholz, Germany has been inching towards remilitarisation. Electoral pressure caused by the rise of the populist AfD draws on hostility to Ukraine policy, aggravated by the effects of sanctions on Germany’s economy and geopolitical standing alike.

While Scholz and other high-ranking German ministers (including Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius) have vetoed nuclear armaments for now, other politicians are urging Berlin to rethink its reliance on American nukes. Liberal Finance Minister Christian Lindner tested the waters on a common European nuclear shield in an op-ed published last month.

“Let us not deceive ourselves: as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, Europe will also have to adhere to a system of nuclear deterrence in order not to be defenceless at the mercy of the blackmail of authoritarian states” Lindner declared, commending recent German deployments to Lithuania and push for a common EU defence policy.

Western Germany has long been an American military bastion. An estimated 20 nuclear weapons are already stationed at Büchel Air Base in Germany.

The German Ministry of Defence did not respond to press inquiries about the rumoured plans at the time of publication.


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