Transatlantic Views on Non-Proliferation

January 20, 2010

On January 20, 2010, the American-German Institute (AGI) hosted a roundtable discussion with Ambassador Peter Gottwald, Commissioner of the German Federal Government for Arms Control and Disarmament, on Germany’s nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament position. Participants discussed and ultimately concluded there were several commonalities between U.S. and German policies regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The proceedings opened with a discussion of Germany’s official position on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, with Germany’s representatives asserting broad condemnation of any non-peaceful nuclear ambitions in Iran. Participants then discussed Russia’s current non-adherence to the commitments of the 1999 Istanbul Summit. Ambassador Gottwald expressed German uncertainty regarding Russia’s ability or intention to maintain its commitment to the Istanbul Summit. Though some analysts proposed that Russia is intent on regaining power and status in the world and therefore might be more likely to flaunt international non-proliferation treaties, other participants suggested reviving the NATO-Russia Council could help better understand Russia’s intentions.

Compared to the past several decades, the seriousness of the current nuclear terrorism threat concerned the roundtable participants. Ambassador Gottwald posited the idea that the threat of nuclear terrorism as a common enemy could ultimately reunite forces in the transatlantic alliance. In addition, participants examined the nuclear standoff between Pakistan and India and resolved that it would not be concluded until the fate of the Kashmir province was decided. The unstable situation in the Middle East also posed an interesting dilemma for the participants as they discussed the United States’ and Germany’s future relationships with nuclear world powers.

The final discussion centered on the relationship between Germany, Britain, and France in the realm of non-proliferation. The Ambassador related that the three countries tend to hold different views on nuclear non-proliferation, especially because France and Britain both possess nuclear weapons and Germany does not. Participants concluded with the hope that the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and NATO’s Strategic Concept would both experience relevant amendments, ratification, and implementation.