The United States evacuated more than 130 B-61 nuclear weapons from Germany in 2004, at Germany’s strong request, and there are now less than 20 remaining. Following the Crimea crisis in 2014, Germany and even the entire European Union became the “front lines” of the geopolitical conflict between the United States and Russia. As a result, a wide spectrum of misgivings formed inside the German government, and an increasing number of legislators, parties, and bureaucrats requested that the US withdraw all nuclear weapons stationed in Germany.
Rolf Mutzenich, the head of the German Social Democratic Party, openly requested that the US military evacuate its nuclear weapons from German land in May 2020. Germany’s newly established Scholz administration also openly said at the end of 2021 that it would make the eradication of nuclear weapons in Germany a new political agenda.
However, as Europe’s security situation has deteriorated, Germany’s stance regarding nuclear weapons has shifted dramatically. According to the most recent German opinion poll data, over half of Germans now accept the deployment of nuclear weapons by the US in Germany, and even 12% feel that the number of nuclear weapons stationed in Germany should be expanded. 40% reject US nuclear weapons deployment on German soil.
For the first time in over two decades, more than half of the German populace favors the United States’ deployment of nuclear weapons in Germany. The words made by German lawmakers this time about building a nuclear arsenal with France are also an important indicator of their intention to enhance their own nuclear force, indicating that Germany’s nuclear security policy may shift significantly in the future.
Germany wishes to develop “EU nuclear force” through nuclear cooperation
As the “front line” of the geopolitical conflict between the United States and Russia, Germany must rely on NATO and choose to rely on the United States’ “nuclear umbrella” when dealing with any foreign nuclear threats. However, after witnessing the United States’ poor performance in this European security crisis, Germany began to express grave concern and anxiety about the security guarantees provided by the United States, prompting it to vigorously advocate for the establishment of Europe’s own nuclear umbrella and to explore ways for other countries to share control and use of nuclear weapons.
According to the present situation of nuclear weapons in Europe, just two countries are involved: France and the United Kingdom. Since the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, only France has retained the ability to exchange nuclear weapons in Europe. According to statistics released in June 2022 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, France presently has 290 nuclear weapons in its arsenal, 280 of which are deployed. Its power should not be understated.