“Very dangerous escalation”: Barley’s push for EU nuclear weapons sparks controversy

“Fire-dangerous escalation”
Barley’s push for EU nuclear weapons sparks controversy

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If he is re-elected, former US President Trump has announced that he will not necessarily help Europeans in the war against Putin. Shortly afterwards, Barley, the SPD’s leading candidate for the European elections, brings up an idea: The EU could think about having its own nuclear arsenal. That sparks discussions.

The SPD’s top candidate for the European elections, Katarina Barley, sparked a controversial debate with a statement about the EU’s own nuclear weapons. On the way to a European army, “that could also become an issue,” she told the “Tagesspiegel.” Because “in view of Donald Trump’s recent statements” about NATO, the US’s nuclear protection “can no longer be relied upon.”

Currently, the nuclear deterrent for Europe lies with NATO, said Barley. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg correctly remarked that it was still in the US’s interest to “provide this significantly.” Trump, who wants to become US president again in November, said at a rally on Saturday that he would not come to the aid of NATO countries that did not spend enough on defense in an attack. He would then even encourage Russia to do “whatever they want” with them.

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner appeared open to a debate about common nuclear weapons in Europe. In a guest article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, Lindner points out that French President Emmanuel Macron has made offers of cooperation. “We should understand Donald Trump’s recent statements as a call to further rethink this element of European security under the umbrella of NATO,” writes the FDP leader.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Monday after a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz that the French president’s offer of a possible Europeanization of nuclear weapons should be taken “really seriously.” Germany does not have its own nuclear weapons and has never sought nuclear weapons. However, the Federal Republic has agreed on so-called “nuclear sharing” with the USA. In the event of war, German fighter jets fly US nuclear weapons to their targets.

“More atomic bombs won’t make the world safer”

Left leader Marin Schirdewan sharply criticized Barley’s statements; He accused the SPD of “saber rattling”. “The right answer to Trump’s nonsense is not nuclear armament, but a policy of de-escalation and civil conflict resolution,” said Schirdewan, who is his party’s leading candidate for the European elections, to the AFP news agency.

“More atomic bombs will not make the world safer,” he emphasized. “On the contrary, with all the atomic bombs that currently exist, you can wipe out the world more than 150 times.” Instead of thinking about more atomic bombs, he called on the SPD-led federal government to finally sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Union parliamentary group vice-president Johann Wadephul meanwhile called on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to take a position on Barley’s statements. The Chancellor must ensure clarity, he told the “Tagesspiegel”: “Is that the position of the federal government and his party?” The CDU politician further wanted to know how this could actually be achieved given Germany’s international law obligations and whether this had been agreed with France, which already has nuclear weapons.

“Deterrence includes nuclear weapons”

Barley’s statements also met with criticism within the party. The SPD foreign policy expert Ralf Stegner described the push for common European nuclear weapons as an “extremely dangerous escalation.” He emphasized to the “Tagesspiegel”: “There is no need for a European nuclear power – it would be the opposite of European security.”

However, the CSU’s top candidate for the European elections, Manfred Weber, appeared open to a European nuclear umbrella. “Europe must become so militarily strong that no one wants to compete with us,” he told the “Bild” newspaper. “This means we need deterrence. Deterrence includes nuclear weapons.”

The current structure with the two nuclear powers France and Great Britain is not enough for the CSU politician. French President Emmanuel Macron has already made a vague offer to talk about the importance of French nuclear forces for Europe. “Now that Donald Trump is openly questioning the role of the USA as a protecting power would be the right moment for this,” emphasized Weber. He also called for “a new chapter of cooperation” with Great Britain.

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