July 17, 2013
New polls see German Chancellor Angela Merkel getting reelected in September, and that means another trans-Atlantic spat over U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe — including an overhauled B61 gravity bomb — is unlikely to come to pass anytime soon, according to observers.
In its program for the election, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) omits the topic of atomic bombs stationed in Germany altogether, making only passing reference to fulfilling NATO “obligations.” This is after foreign minister Guido Westerwelle of the coalition party FDP has made repeated attempts over the past four years to rid Germany of the weapons, seen by many there as a relic of the Cold War.
The opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), meanwhile, has picked up the issue in its election agenda, vowing to work toward the bombs’ removal from Europe by way of U.S.-Russian disarmament talks. President Obama also raised that prospect in a speech in Berlin last month, calling for “bold reductions” in tactical nuclear weapons on both sides.
With polls showing the CDU in a comfortable lead so far, there is little expectation among NATO watchers of enough political impetus from the German government to deviate from the status quo, codified in May 2012 in the declaration of the alliance’s Deterrence and Defense Posture Review.
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