The Renaissance of the West (II)

BERLIN | | usa

BERLIN (Own report) - German military experts have initiated a debate on NATO's nuclear rearmament. The Western war alliance has "become more important" through the Ukraine crisis, wrote a high-ranking specialist of the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS) in Berlin in a recently published discussion paper. In this context, "nuclear deterrence" must again become a topic of discussion. The "entire deterrence package" must put be on the agenda, not only nuclear arms in general, but also Europe-based US nuclear weapons - not least of all, those stored in Germany. Beyond the threat of nuclear war, the danger of a further barbarization of future wars is looming in the wake of the regeneration of the West. A former head of the Policy Planning Staff of the German Defense Ministry is proposing that Berlin consider procuring depleted uranium munitions for the Bundeswehr to combat Russian tanks. Depleted uranium is extremely destructive, even after their battlefield use. In Iraq for example, where NATO countries used these weapons, vast areas are contaminated still today.

Nuclear Rearmament

Karl-Heinz Kamp, former Research Director at the NATO Defense College in Rom (2009 -2013) and since 2013 academic director of the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS) in Berlin has launched the debate on nuclear rearmament. He introduced his theses in the recent issue of "Internationale Politik," a journal published by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) aimed at a broader public.

The Future of Deterrence

According to Kamp, Russia has "not only modernized its conventional armed forces, since the Georgia war in 2008, but it also upgraded its nuclear arsenal."[1] Russia considers its nuclear potential to be "compensation for the lack of conventional forces comparable to those of NATO, which has become more powerful through its acquisition of former Warsaw Pact members." In fact, Moscow sees its nuclear arsenal as deterrence against possible aggression by a NATO that has expanded and steadily upgraded its arsenals. Kamp explicitly reaffirms that Russian President Vladimir Putin had repeatedly warned that "the West should not forget that Russia is a nuclear power." This expert at the Federal Academy for Security Policy has now declared that due to the bloody escalation of the power struggle over Ukraine, "NATO's traditional self-defense role has become more important." In this context, the question of "how to insure the future credibility of nuclear deterrence must to be raised."

Steadfast Noon

Threatening a nuclear strike has always been an integral part of NATO's war scenarios - including dropping Europe-based nuclear bombs, some based also in Germany. NATO regularly holds "Steadfast Noon" maneuvers to train for nuclear attacks, the latest, in October 2014 - with German participation. Within the "Steadfast Noon" framework, NATO is "training for the use of Europe-based US nuclear arms, within the context of nuclear sharing," explained the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) late last year.[2] "Steadfast Noon" had not been the NATO countries' only nuclear war exercise last year. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) Already several years ago, plans were made to modernize the Europe-based nuclear weapons and secure the fleet of combat aircraft capable of dropping them. The renovation of the B61 atomic bombs began already in 2012 - at a cost of US $25 million each.[4] The same year, a spokesperson for the German Defense Ministry announced that Tornado combat jets, which could deliver and drop these bombs would be operational at the Büchel nuclear base (in the German Eifel) beyond 2015 - the year the bombs had originally been scheduled to be decommissioned.[5] "Currently; the American Europe-based B61 bombs have been technically overhauled and some of their components have been updated to current technological standards," confirmed Kamp.[6]

Nuclear Frontlines

"In the long run, NATO will not be able to avoid" initiating a new debate on nuclear weapons, continues the expert at the Federal Academy for Security Policy, using the new Cold War as a pretext. "Much more than the Europe-based American nuclear bombs" will have to be discussed. "Since the conflict with Russia is not just a bad-weather front but a fundamental climate change, the whole deterrence package must be placed in a new context."[7] This includes "NATO's conventional capabilities" - for example, the creation of NATO's "spearhead" rapid response force, in which Germany has played a decisive role,[8] but also "the nuclear weapons (both in Europe and the USA)." The nuclear frontlines, which have significantly lost their importance since 1990, but have never been completely dismantled, would therefore be fully reestablished.

Uranium Munitions

Other than the threat of a nuclear war, the looming threat of further barbarization of future wars - even conventional - comes in the wake of this Western regeneration. In late April, the former Head of the German Defense Ministry's Policy Planning Staff, Hans Rühle, publically demanded that the Bundeswehr procure depleted uranium munitions. Rühle wrote that DM63, "tungsten-based anti-tank fléchette munitions," currently available to German leopard-2 tanks, to combat enemy tanks, are "ineffective for penetrating the armor of the newer versions of (Russian - gfp.com) T80 and T90 tanks."[9] This is "all the more the case for the Russian Armata battle tank due to be operational in 2020." The problem is well-known. It had been comprehensively discussed back in the 1980s, when Rühle was head of the Planning Staff at the German Defense Ministry. There is but one solution, which was rejected in the 80s, because of the strength of the peace movement: The Bundeswehr must be "equipped with depleted uranium-based fléchette munitions as soon as possible." Their penetrating power is sufficient to destroy any kind of Russian tank.

Contaminated Land

Using the example of Iraq, a recently televised documentary of the Bavarian Broadcasting Company (Bayerischen Rundfunk - BR) exposed the consequences of using uranium munitions. According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) estimations, up to 2,000 tons of depleted uranium munitions had been fired on Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 wars. Vast areas, particularly in the south of the country are today contaminated. The BR documentary film ("Leiser Tod im Garten Eden" or "Quiet Death in the Garden of Eden") describes the dramatic "increase in the number of cases of cancer, stillbirths and horrible congenital deformities" in those areas of Southern Iraq.[10] Scholarly studies trace the causes to radiation from debris caused by depleted uranium munitions, whose acquisition is now being demanded by German military policymakers.

More on this subject at The Renaissance of the West (I).

[1] Karl-Heinz Kamp: Nukleare Kompensation. Mit der Krise in Russland gewinnen Kernwaffen wieder an Bedeutung. Internationale Politik Mai/Juni 2015.
[2] Oliver Meier: Die nukleare Dimension der Ukraine-Krise. SWP-Aktuell 66, Oktober 2014.
[3] See Die neue nukleare Eskalationsdynamik.
[4] Dana Priest: The B61 bomb: A case study in needs and costs. www.washingtonpost.com 16.09.2012.
[5] Otfried Nassauer: Erhöhtes Unfallrisiko? Taktische US-Atomwaffen in Europa. NDR: Streitkräfte und Strategien, 06.10.2012.
[6], [7] Karl-Heinz Kamp: Nukleare Kompensation. Mit der Krise in Russland gewinnen Kernwaffen wieder an Bedeutung. Internationale Politik Mai/Juni 2015.
[8] See 21st Century Warfare (I) and 21st Century Warfare (II).
[9] Hans Rühle: Warum die Politik dem Leo Urangeschosse verweigerte. www.welt.de 26.04.2015.
[10] Karin Leukefeld: Leiser Tod im Garten Eden: Die Folgen der Golfkriege. www.br.de 01.04.2015.