US nuclear buildup shows new arms race has already begun – German FM

World safety requires more disarmament initiatives, not more nukes, says German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, accusing the new US Nuclear Posture Review of endangering Europe.

“The decision by the US government in favor of new tactical nuclear weapons shows that the spiral of a new nuclear arms race is already under way,” Gabriel said in a statement, noting that “like the Cold War times, we in Europe are in particular danger.”

The newly-released US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) refers to Russia’s nuclear modernization as one of the reasons to renovate and upgrade the US nuclear arsenals making them more mobile by developing new, low-yield nuclear weapons.

Gabriel also put part of the blame for the deterioration of international security on Moscow, mentioning its 2014 reunification with Crimea and a “dramatic loss of confidence” in Russia as a result. The instability in the countries along Europe’s southern borders is another challenge to the global order, which “is increasingly being called into question,” Gabriel said.

 
© Greg Baker

But building more nukes is not the answer, he added. Instead, they send the “wrong signal” and trigger a new upward spiral in the arms race.

“Instead of new weapon systems, we need new disarmament initiatives,” Gabriel said, noting that all existing arms control agreements should be “upheld unconditionally” in a concerted effort to create a world free of nuclear weapons.

While not having nuclear weapons of its own, Germany stores about 20 American B61-4 nuclear bombs which it keeps at the Luftwaffe’s Büchel Air Base in Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany. The base hosts German Tornado aircraft that can carry the US bombs under a nuclear sharing deal. Starting from 2021, the aging bombs will be gradually replaced by a new variant of the B61, the B-12, which is expected to go into full-scale production in 2020. The new bombs are considered to be more accurate and are set to be stored at the same base which has been housing US nuclear weapons since 2007, despite vocal protests from the German opposition.

 
The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee © Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber/U.S. Navy/

Germany’s criticism comes after the US nuclear doctrine was denounced by Russia, China and Iran, all named in the document as potential nuclear threats to the US.

On Sunday the Chinese Foreign Ministry branded the report that accuses it of a major nuclear-build up “presumptuous speculation” calling on Washington to drop its “Cold-War mentality.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet that it violates international non-proliferation treaties and brings the world “closer to annihilation.” 

Decrying the US nuclear ambitions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that “Americans are shamelessly threatening Russia with a new nuclear weapon.”

Commenting on the document, Moscow said that the accusations against Russia in the review “have nothing to do with reality,” dismissing Washington’s “aggressive Russia” notion as a straw man, and a pretext for pumping more money into its military industry.

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End all useless slaughter, halt arms race – Pope Francis to G20 leaders

Pope Francis has urged the heads of G20 countries to end “useless slaughter” and halt the arms race, in a written address to world leaders who have gathered for a two-day summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The pontiff sent the message to the world leaders, saying that “war is never a solution,” and that he feels the responsibility to demand that the world put an end to all these “useless slaughters.”

The aim of the G20, Pope Francis pointed out, is “to resolve economic differences peacefully and to agree on common financial and trade rules to allow for the integral development of all.”

“Yet that will not be possible unless all parties commit themselves to substantially reducing levels of conflict, halting the present arms race and renouncing direct or indirect involvement in conflicts, as well as agreeing to discuss sincerely and transparently all their differences,” the pontiff wrote.

He emphasized that “there is a tragic contradiction and inconsistency in the apparent unity expressed in common forums on economic or social issues, and the acceptance, active or passive, of armed conflicts.”

Pope Francis also called on all the government leaders to consider the “need to give absolute priority to the poor, refugees, the suffering, evacuees and the excluded, without distinction of nation, race, religion or culture.”

In particular, the pontiff mentioned the tragic situation in South Sudan, the Lake Chad basin, the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

Protests have been raging in Hamburg over the G20 summit being held on July 7-8, with 45 people already detained and over 150 policemen injured in the clashes during the “Welcome to Hell” protest on Thursday.

Some 30 events and marches have been scheduled to take place during the summit, with 20,000 police deployed to provide security.

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Russia to NATO: Stop Dominating World, Warns of Arms Race

Russia condemned NATO's "reckless" and "destructive" efforts, and warned that continued actions near Russia's border would lead to an arms race.

On Friday in response to the ongoing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned in a statement Friday the “destructive line” of NATO allied nations which it said are an attempt to dominate global affairs. The ministry warned that the alliance's actions make a constructive relationship impossible, and will lead to an arms race.

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Moscow blamed deteriorating NATO-Russian relations on western aggression. “The growing negative tendency is not Russia's choice,” the Foreign Ministry reiterated. “This is a direct result of a destructive line of the bloc, aimed at reckless achievement of military and political dominance in European and global affairs,” they continued.

The statement comes in response to NATO reaffirming its approach of simultaneously building up defense against Russia, while also seeking a more “constructive relationship.”

“NATO is a defensive alliance. NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia. Actually we recognize that Russia is our biggest neighbour, Russia is here to stay, and we are striving for a better and more constructive relationship with Russia. At the same time, NATO has to deliver credible deterrence and defence. Because by delivering credible deterrence and defence we are preventing conflict. We are preventing war,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a press conference on Wednesday.

The statement went on to justify heightened NATO activity near Russia as being necessary following the annexation of Crimea.

However, Moscow does not view NATO actions as “defensive,” as Stoltenberg insisted. Rather they see them as “the alliance's desire to legitimize military preparations near the Russian borders, which – in conjunction with the military activity of individual bloc countries – change the alignment of forces in Europe and lead to a dangerous spiral of an arms race.”

In addition to tensions from conflicts of interest in the ongoing Syrian conflict, last year NATO stationed 1,100 soldiers in the Baltic region close to the Russian border, 900 of which were U.S. troops.

The Russian ministry acknowledged that Russian-NATO relations “are in the deepest crisis since the end of the Cold War,” and went on to condemn efforts at “whipping up a myth on 'a threat from the East'.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump has pressured for NATO European allies to increase military spending in order to do their “fair share.” Doubts are cast over the unpredictable U.S. President's committment to the organization, which he called "obsolete" while campaigning.

NATO was founded in 1949 as a collective defense alliance between various North American and European states. According to Article 5 of the NATO charter, members are obligated to assist any member country that is attacked. NATO countries formed an allied military bloc in opposition to the socialist Soviet bloc during the cold war.

Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the militaristic organization has played a role in regime change interventions like Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya that claimed tens of thousands of lives and produced a crisis of refugees due to destabilization. As member nations arrived in Brussels this week, thousands protested the meeting of the organization.

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