BERLIN (Own report) – German military experts have initiated a debate on NATO’s nuclear rearmament. The Western war alliance has “become more important” through the Ukraine crisis, wrote a high-ranking specialist of the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS) in Berlin in a recently published discussion paper. In this context, “nuclear deterrence” must again become a topic of discussion. The “entire deterrence package” must put be on the agenda, not only nuclear arms in general, but also Europe-based US nuclear weapons – not least of all, those stored in Germany. Beyond the threat of nuclear war, the danger of a further barbarization of future wars is looming in the wake of the regeneration of the West. A former head of the Policy Planning Staff of the German Defense Ministry is proposing that Berlin consider procuring depleted uranium munitions for the Bundeswehr to combat Russian tanks. Depleted uranium is extremely destructive, even after their battlefield use. In Iraq for example, where NATO countries used these weapons, vast areas are contaminated still today.
The Future of Deterrence
According to Kamp, Russia has “not only modernized its conventional armed forces, since the Georgia war in 2008, but it also upgraded its nuclear arsenal.” Russia considers its nuclear potential to be “compensation for the lack of conventional forces comparable to those of NATO, which has become more powerful through its acquisition of former Warsaw Pact members.” In fact, Moscow sees its nuclear arsenal as deterrence against possible aggression by a NATO that has expanded and steadily upgraded its arsenals. Kamp explicitly reaffirms that Russian President Vladimir Putin had repeatedly warned that “the West should not forget that Russia is a nuclear power.” This expert at the Federal Academy for Security Policy has now declared that due to the bloody escalation of the power struggle over Ukraine, “NATO’s traditional self-defense role has become more important.” In this context, the question of “how to insure the future credibility of nuclear deterrence must to be raised.”
Threatening a nuclear strike has always been an integral part of NATO’s war scenarios – including dropping Europe-based nuclear bombs, some based also in Germany. NATO regularly holds “Steadfast Noon” maneuvers to train for nuclear attacks, the latest, in October 2014 – with German participation. Within the “Steadfast Noon” framework, NATO is “training for the use of Europe-based US nuclear arms, within the context of nuclear sharing,” explained the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) late last year. “Steadfast Noon” had not been the NATO countries’ only nuclear war exercise last year. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Already several years ago, plans were made to modernize the Europe-based nuclear weapons and secure the fleet of combat aircraft capable of dropping them. The renovation of the B61 atomic bombs began already in 2012 – at a cost of US $25 million each. The same year, a spokesperson for the German Defense Ministry announced that Tornado combat jets, which could deliver and drop these bombs would be operational at the Büchel nuclear base (in the German Eifel) beyond 2015 – the year the bombs had originally been scheduled to be decommissioned. “Currently; the American Europe-based B61 bombs have been technically overhauled and some of their components have been updated to current technological standards,” confirmed Kamp.
“In the long run, NATO will not be able to avoid” initiating a new debate on nuclear weapons, continues the expert at the Federal Academy for Security Policy, using the new Cold War as a pretext. “Much more than the Europe-based American nuclear bombs” will have to be discussed. “Since the conflict with Russia is not just a bad-weather front but a fundamental climate change, the whole deterrence package must be placed in a new context.” This includes “NATO’s conventional capabilities” – for example, the creation of NATO’s “spearhead” rapid response force, in which Germany has played a decisive role, but also “the nuclear weapons (both in Europe and the USA).” The nuclear frontlines, which have significantly lost their importance since 1990, but have never been completely dismantled, would therefore be fully reestablished.
More on this subject at The Renaissance of the West (I).