Scholz rejects the European nuclear umbrella

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has spoken out decisively against a common European nuclear protection umbrella. “I don’t think anything of this debate,” Scholz told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in an interview published on Friday.

Germany “decided a long time ago not to seek its own nuclear weapons.” At the same time, Germany is integrated into NATO's nuclear deterrent, said the Chancellor and warned against questioning the US's protection “in a manner of anticipatory concern” and “negligently.”

Scholz warned not to consider the US election as decided yet. “In any case, last week I met a US incumbent who seemed very convinced that he would win the election in the fall,” said Scholz, referring to his meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington.

The most promising Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump recently questioned the protection of NATO states that do not meet their financial obligations. The comments sparked a debate about European nuclear weapons. Both Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) and the SPD's top candidate for the European elections, Katarina Barley, were open to this.

The chairman of the EU Military Committee, Robert Brieger, also believes that the debate about nuclear deterrence in Europe is justified. “I consider the discussion about European nuclear weapons to be legitimate given Russia's confrontational stance,” the highest-ranking EU military representative told the AFP news agency in Brussels.

If the Europeans wanted to “act on an equal footing with other powers”, they would also have to significantly increase their defense spending, he emphasized and called for Trump's statements to be seen as an “incentive”.

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, however, warned at a NATO meeting on Wednesday against discussing a European nuclear umbrella without the USA. Pistorius spoke of “untimely debates”. Stoltenberg warned not to question the “credibility” of the deterrence provided by US nuclear weapons in Europe.

Scholz emphasized, however, that Germany must better arm itself against the danger of new Russian aggression with conventional armament. “The threat to Europe from Russia is real – and we have to draw conclusions from that,” said Scholz in the interview with “Süddeutsche”.

In order to have enough ammunition and weapons available for national defense, Germany must expand its defense economy. “It must enable us to permanently supply ourselves with the necessary weapon systems, ammunition and spare parts,” he said.