A key building block in Europe’s security – the so-called INF Treaty on ground-based intermediate-range missiles – is under threat. With this pioneering treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 banned an entire category of dangerous weapons. Russia has for several years refused to provide evidence to refute severe accusations of treaty violations, and the United States has recently announced its intention to withdraw from the agreement.
Already now, it is clear that termination of the INF Treaty would deal a severe blow to Europe’s security and to the arms-control architecture that has been built over the past decades. It is therefore high time for a joint renewed effort to promote disarmament and arms control. To this end, Foreign Minister Maas proposes a four-pronged strategy :
1. New dialogue between the Americans, the Europeans and the Russians
Even during the Cold War, actors engaged in constant dialogue to make sure that mutual mistrust and misinterpretations would not lead to ever greater risk. Today, we are again in urgent need of such mechanisms. We must help all actors realise that they have a common interest in the kind of security that is created by mutual trust and transparency. In a first step, Germany will seek out like-minded European partners for this effort.
2. New rules to ensure transparency on missiles and cruise missiles
The race to develop the newest weapons in the ballistic missile and cruise missile category carries great risk. It is high time to draft an international set of rules that also covers these weapons, with a view to creating more transparency and trust. Germany will work to move forward the international community’s discussions on this issue.
3. Getting China on board
So far, China’s massive armament activities have been accompanied by no confidence-building measures whatsoever. Any effort to create greater global security through disarmament must therefore include engagement with China. This is why Germany will intensively use its lines of communication with Beijing to press for transparency and arms control.
4. New rules are needed for new weapons
The rapid advance of technology will have a tremendous impact on warfare. Space weapons, autonomous killer robots and hypersonic missiles may soon become a very real threat. Germany has therefore launched an initiative in the United Nations to ban fully autonomous weapons. It will also host an international conference in Berlin next year for the purpose of drafting new rules for future high-tech weapons.