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With Donald Trump leading the United States, Europe seems to be losing trust in the American nuclear umbrella. As the EU focuses on the need to have its own military, the issue of European nuclear deterrent comes to the fore. The debate has been triggered. This issue is intensively discussed in Germany.
The nuclear deterrence plan is eyeing France, proposing to turn the French nuclear potential into a European nuclear deterrent. It is believed that Germany could play a decisive role in convincing France, and may be the UK, to provide security guarantees for all of Europe. Under such a plan, Europe would become independent from the US.
The French nuclear forces would move under a common European command. Or France could move its aircraft with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles to other European countries, like Germany, leaving the sea-based arsenal under the national control. From France’s perspective, this may be a good way to get the rest of the alliance to pay for the costly arsenal’s upkeep. Both Charles de Gaulle and Francois Mitterrand floated the idea of France extending nuclear deterrence to West Germany during the Cold War.
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could preclude its participation, though it may join the project even outside the EU under certain conditions. It’s not in the headlines, but the possibility of including the UK into a European nuclear shield is under consideration.
Just three days before the US elections, an op-ed in Germany’s
largest left-leaning news outlet, Spiegel Online, mused about the
possibility of Germany pursuing its own nuclear weapons. In late 2016, Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with Germany’s ruling party, raised the issue after
Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. According to
him, a Franco-British nuclear umbrella could be financed through a joint
European military budget that is due to begin in 2019, along with joint
European medical, transportation and reconnaissance commands. This would require a doctrine, he said, allowing Europe to introduce nuclear weapons to a non-nuclear conflict.