US President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, look on as German Chancellor Angela Merkel communes with French President Emmanuel Macron during ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Why Germany won’t build its own nuclear weapons and remains skeptical of a Eurodeterrent

By Oliver Meier, March 1, 2020

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US President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, look on as German Chancellor Angela Merkel communes with French President Emmanuel Macron during ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

In the 1960s, fear that West Germany could acquire nuclear weapons, either alone or in cooperation with other European nations, was a key driving factor for negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (Shaker 1980, 142–147). Fifty years later, the issue of an independent German or European nuclear deterrent has once again appeared on the proliferation agenda.

Two developments were catalysts for the new discussion of nuclear proliferation dangers in Europe. The 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and the military chest-beating of Russian President Vladimir Putin have revived concerns about nuclear blackmail by Russia. At the same time, in the eyes of many European decision makers, US President Donald Trump has fundamentally weakened transatlantic security ties. Before and after he was elected in 2016, Trump called into question the reliability of American security guarantees for Europe, including extended nuclear deterrence commitments.

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