The current tense situation on the Korean Peninsula shows all too clearly how much we need disarmament, arms control and discussion on a world without nuclear weapons. This was one reason why Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel discussed with the Russian, American and German members of the Deep Cuts Commission on Wednesday (16 August) how global regulations on arms control can be upheld and expanded.
Old questions, new answers
The current political debate is marked by calls for greater spending on arms and defence. In his talks with experts from Russia, the US and Germany, Foreign Minister Gabriel’s aim was to explore how new steps can be taken to uphold and refine arms control architecture despite the currently difficult situation. The focus was on relations between the US and Russia and the implications of this for European security. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Gabriel expressed concern: “We are currently repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War. The most important treaties and agreements on arms control are being destroyed. There is a risk of a new Cold War. Europe will be the victim in this scenario.”
Disarmament – a topic on which there is Consensus?
The Deep Cuts Commission is a trilateral German-Russian-US commission of experts that addresses prospects for the US and Russia reducing their nuclear arsenals, a step that is crucial to nuclear disarmament. In total, the Commission has 21 members comprised of an equal number of high-level experts from the research and consulting sectors, as well as former government officials and diplomats, from the three countries. The Commission issues its declarations on the basis of consensus. These statements highlight obstacles on the path of further US-Russian disarmament in the nuclear and conventional sectors and make concrete recommendations on nuclear and conventional disarmament.
A task for German policymakers
The Commission bases its views on the assumption that disarmament is only possible if it takes into account strategic balance and that current nuclear arsenals are excessively large because they still follow the logic of the Cold War. In the experts’ view, Germany should use its influence with the US and Russia, as disarmament is in everyone’s interest. The trend to militarising foreign policy must be stopped. Foreign Minister Gabriel believes that German policymakers must play a role here. “We regard these developments as a reason for the Federal Foreign Office to focus on this area.”