By Bernd Hahnfeld, Board member IALANA Germany
The text was first published in German in December 2021 and updated in October 2022.
Summary: In keeping a decades-old tradition, Germany continues to maintain delivery systems for U.S. nuclear bombs stationed in the country. In case of deployment, the nuclear bombs are transported and dropped by Bundeswehr soldiers using Tornado fighter-bombers. This nuclear sharing is part of NATO’s strategic concept, which has been agreed upon by the member countries without a legal basis. The use of nuclear bombs and the threat of the use of nuclear weapons are prohibited by international humanitarian law and the human right to life. In addition, the use violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Germany, a non-nuclear-weapon state, from any co-disposal of nuclear weapons. With the development of nuclear Trident missiles with small explosive power for the Ohio-class U.S. nuclear submarines, the tactical nuclear bombs stationed in Germany have lost their military significance anyway.
A text by Bernd Hahnfeld, Board Member IALANA Germany
The Bundeswehr Fighter-Bomber Wing 33 is stationed in Büchel. It has the task, within the framework of NATO’s nuclear cooperation, of practicing with its Tornado aircraft the transport and dropping of the atomic bombs stationed there. In the event of war, Fighter-Bomber Wing 33 would deliver nuclear bombs to their targets following their release by the US President and operational authorization through the U.S. chain of command. In the event of war, the German soldiers thus acquire the “power of disposal” over nuclear weapons under the auspices of NATO. This is so despite the fact that the release of the weapons is only effective for dropping them on targets chosen by the U.S. There are no indications that peacetime nuclear exercises have involved actual nuclear weapons rather than practice bombs.
As a party to the NPT, the Federal Republic of Germany as a non-nuclear weapons state is obliged under Art. 2 NPT not to “accept nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or the power of disposal thereof from anyone, directly or indirectly”.
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