Moving disarmament forward

The Federal Cabinet approved the 30th annual Report on Progress on Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation and the Development of the Capabilities of the Armed Forces on 27 February. Disarmament and non-proliferation are key priorities for German foreign and security policy. During the Bundestag debate on the report on 15 March, Foreign Minister Westerwelle pointed to the achievements that had been reached and the challenges ahead, and said, “Disarmament policy must take a long-term approach, especially the major successes are not evident at first glance.”

For the reporting period of 2012, the report offers a comprehensive overview of German Government policy and of key developments in the areas named above. Foreign Minister Westerwelle told the Bundestag that the worldwide successes of recent years were thoroughly evident.

Good progress

The NATO summit in May 2012, for example, raised the Atlantic alliance’s profile on arms control and disarmament issues at the German Government’s initiative. “NATO’s commitment to disarmament is the strongest it’s ever been,” Westerwelle said.

One important development was the offer to Russia to start a dialogue on greater transparency in the area of sub-strategic nuclear weapons. Germany is working with its partners in the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Progress on conventional arms control in Europe also remains important. The German Government is working with its partners Russia and the US to take further steps towards disarmament. Westerwelle sees “encouraging signs” from the US administration, which has under President Obama brought new vigour to the disarmament agenda.

Challenges to international security

Rocket launch in North Korea

Rocket launch in North Korea
© picture-alliance/dpa

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Rocket launch in North Korea

Rocket launch in North Korea

Rocket launch in North Korea

Risks emanating primarily from Iran and North Korea remain a major challenge to international security. “We cannot accept a nuclear-armed Iran,” Westerwelle underscored in his speech to the Bundestag. “We want to prevent this through diplomatic and political means.”

North Korea also continues to refuse to cooperate with the international community and has recently launched a long-range missile and carried out a nuclear test. The North Korean leadership has also stepped up its confrontational stance by threatening a first strike against the US and cancelling its nonaggression pact with South Korea. Westerwelle said the German Government condemned in the strongest possible terms both the nuclear test and North Korea’s recent threats.

Syria’s chemical weapons stocks are also cause for concern. Mitigating proliferation, especially of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems, remains a vital task for the international community.

Germany’s commitment

The German Government strongly advocates a globally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). It is working to help make the upcoming March 2013 conference on the ATT in New York a success. Germany also continues to advocate worldwide for humanitarian mine clearance and support for victims of mines and cluster munitions.

Foreign Minister Westerwelle said, “Disarmament policy is security policy. That is why this year we will keep devoting a great deal of energy to pushing for disarmament and non-proliferation.”

Last updated 15.03.2013