DW Exclusive: Germany’s Heiko Maas criticizes UK plans to expand nuclear arsenal

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas voiced criticism of the UK’s plans to enhance its nuclear arsenal in an unique interview with DW on Thursday.

“We don’t want nuclear weapons arsenals to grow. If you don’t want that to happen, you can’t expand them,” Maas mentioned when he sat down with DW’s Chief International Editor Richard Walker in Berlin.

DW then requested the international minister what he considered British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement this Tuesday that his authorities would carry the cap on the variety of Trident warheads within the United Kingdom’s nuclear stockpiles for the primary time in additional than 30 years.

Maas replied that the German authorities: “is of the opinion that there are already too many nuclear warheads in the world, not too few. That is also why we don’t want nuclear arsenals to grow.”

The Social Democrat added: “The past has shown that if one side has more nuclear weapons, the other side will try to catch up. And that is the disastrous arms race we have been in for decades.”

The UK deploys its Trident missiles in 4 submarines, one among which repeatedly cruises the seas so as to preserve the power to counterstrike within the occasion of nuclear assault. The determination will enhance the variety of missiles within the UK’s nuclear stockpile by greater than 40% — from 180 to 260 warheads.

Maas says binding worldwide treaties are key

When requested instantly if he thought of the UK’s determination to be a mistake, Maas reiterated that Germany desires to see arsenals shrink, replying: “If that is what you want, then you can’t expand them.”

Maas confused the significance of worldwide treaties in that regard, saying folks should be ready to rely on them limiting arsenals and prohibiting their growth.

Still, he acknowledged that such a state of affairs might solely works if all sides adopted the principles.

Without worldwide guidelines, “we’ll always see that individual countries feel as if they need to acquire new weapons systems to maintain deterrence. Unfortunately, that is the situation we currently find ourselves in,” he mentioned.

US utilizing ‘clear language’ in direction of Russia

Maas was additionally requested about US President Joe Biden’s latest feedback that appeared to suggest Biden believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a killer.”

He kept away from addressing that particular remark however famous, “there is very clear language in the United States with regard to Russian activities, for example in Syria, but also when it comes to influencing elections in third countries.”

The German diplomat confused the pragmatism tied to that direct strategy: “I believe it’s an important signal that American foreign policy is clear on the one hand when it comes to human rights and freedoms, but also that it wants to be in a position to keep the window for dialogue with Moscow open when it comes to major challenges such as disarmament and climate change,” Maas mentioned.

Crimea annexation ‘clear violation of international law’

Speaking virtually precisely seven years after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Maas mentioned the act “was and is a clear violation of international law,” saying that Germany and plenty of allies’ place remained that this ought to be undone. He mentioned it was “not an issue that can be solved militarily, but we will continue to make this expectation clear to Russia.”

He mentioned that Russia itself may had an curiosity in normalizing ties with Europe as soon as once more, years after its exclusion from what now could be as soon as once more the G7. An essential step in direction of enhancing ties could be “finding a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

Asked whether or not he actually believed Crimea would ever turn out to be a part of Ukraine once more, Maas mentioned: “That is our position. I am aware that it could prove an extraordinarily difficult path.”

Lukashenko ‘trampling on our democratic values’

Maas additionally mentioned the EU sanctions in opposition to Belarus after final yr’s extremely contested elections and the following crackdown in opposition to opposition protests and politicians. Despite the EU struggling to react as swiftly as particular person nations just like the US when imposing sanctions, Maas defended performing on a European moderately than a unilateral stage.

“We also have to make sure that sanctions affect the right people in cases like these and do not hit civil society as a whole,” Maas mentioned. “So we must keep the economic consequences of such steps in mind. And that’s why in the case of Belarus we decided to target those responsible. Not just [President Alexander] Lukashenko, but his entire apparatus.”

Asked how he seen the person usually dubbed ‘Europe’s final dictator’, Maas mentioned: “He is clinging on to power by dictatorial means and is trampling our democratic values underfoot.”

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