Whose Side is He On? (German Foreign Minister on the Iran Nuclear Controversy)

Posted by John Rosenthal

Those following the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program will have noticed the odd promotion of Germany to a status virtually equivalent with that of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. But are Germany’s interests in the controversy similar to those of the latter countries? The following comments made by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in conversation with the German weekly der Spiegel [link in German] give reason to doubt it. The “Atomic Powers” to whom Steinmeier refers are those officially so recognized in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, i.e. precisely the five permanent members of the Security Council.

We are for the effective application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The treaty contains a promise by the Atomic Powers to disarm, and we should put pressure on them [sie drängen] to do so. Consequently, I am in fact of the opinion that beyond the current conflict with Iran, we need to review the worldwide situation of nuclear armament.

In this connection, it should be recalled that in the aftermath of WWII the Federal Republic of Germany was required by the western Allies to renounce producing nuclear weapons. (On this subject, as well as more generally on the ambiguities of the Federal Republic’s post-War nuclear diplomacy, see Matthias Küntzel’s book Bonn and the Bomb, which is available in both English and German.)

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