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Rethinking arms control: the Missile Dialogue Initiative

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaking at the launch event for the Missile Dialogue Initiative in Berlin on 18 October 2019

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaking at the launch event for the Missile Dialogue Initiative in Berlin on 18 October 2019, © photothek.net/Heinl

18.10.2019 - Article

Missile technology is developing at a rapid pace. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has launched the Missile Dialogue Initiative in order to respond to these new challenges.

In 2018, Russia tested what it called an “invincible” nuclear-powered missile. In 2017, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. Meanwhile, India managed to shoot down a satellite, making it one of only four countries around the world to have this capability. These are only a few examples of how rapidly modern arms technology is continuing to evolve.

The Missile Dialogue Initiative as a worldwide Network of experts

In order to respond to new developments, Foreign Minister Maas has launched the Missile Dialogue Initiative (MDI), which is opening today. The MDI is a worldwide independent network of experts that will discuss the future of arms control in all of its facets and advise policy-makers and practitioners on an informal basis. The aim is for decision-makers to be better prepared for modern-day challenges.

Foreign Minister Maas said the following about this:

We’re not dealing with science fiction here, but with real threats. We must rethink arms control.

Modern technologies require modern approaches

New arms technologies have a direct impact on the international order. Each regional crisis can turn into a global conflict in a flash. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the capabilities of missile systems and between conventional and nuclear warhead types. Verification of alleged limitations, for instance with respect to range, is becoming ever more complex in the face of technological progress. This is a dilemma, as wherever trust dwindles, control becomes all the more important.

Foreign Minister Maas said the following about this:

International arms control stands at a crossroads. Either we plunge into a new arms race – or we focus our attention on cooperation.

The current arms control architecture is not sufficiently prepared to address these questions. Germany firmly believes that we can only close these gaps together. The MDI is intended to offer approaches to this end. We can achieve transparency and binding agreements when international partners enter into dialogue with one another and consult with independent experts. This is the only way in which we can create the necessary trust for peaceful coexistence.

Germany is committed to creating a modern arms control architecture.

The MDI is part of a range of initiatives that Germany has launched in order to adapt the arms control architecture to modern challenges. In April, Germany ensured that the issue of nuclear disarmament was put back on the agenda of the UN Security Council for the first time in years. In the spring, Foreign Minister Maas invited participants to attend a conference on new weapons technologies and co-chaired the CTBT conference in New York in September.

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