Germany is strongly opposed to the stationing of American medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads in Europe if the United States scraps a key Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia, the German top diplomat says.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made the comment in an interview with Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) on Wednesday, saying, “Under no circumstances should Europe become a stage for a rearmament debate.”
“Stationing of new medium-range missiles would be met with broad resistance in Germany,” he added, two month after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia.
The INF was signed in 1986 between then US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev. It banned all land-based missiles with ranges of 310 to 3,420 miles and included missiles carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads. The original ban between Moscow and Washington led to the elimination of 2,692 missiles.
Russia warned against the US withdrawal, and of consequences.
The Russian president says Moscow will easily make and deploy new missile for defense if the US pulls out of the INF.
Trump said on October 20 that Washington would withdraw from the INF over the claim that Moscow had violated the pact.
Russia has rejected that claim.
Moscow has also said it would be expecting a US deployment of new nuclear missiles in Europe if Washington went ahead with the withdrawal from the pact.
“Nuclear rearmament is most certainly the wrong answer,” Maas, the German foreign minister, further said.
The Cold War-era treaty, which rid Europe of land-based nuclear missiles, has also come into question against a backdrop of renewed tensions between the West and Russia over other issues.
Moscow’s relations with the West remain tense over the Ukrainian crisis, the conflict in Syria, and the allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential poll in 2016.