1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany announces new global arms control project

December 1, 2018

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has announced a German-led initiative on global disarmament. He warned that technologically advanced weaponry will soon transform from science fiction into "deadly reality."

Mid-range Pershing missiles on trucks stand on a dirt road
Image: Frank Trevino/US Department of Defense

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for "new thinking" on disarmament policy on Saturday, announcing a German initiative aimed at improving control over increasingly technologically sophisticated weaponry.

In an interview with the daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Maas said, "Our rules need to keep pace with the technological developments of new types of arms.

"I am also thinking of fully automated weapons systems that can kill entirely independent of human control," he said. Space-based weapons and missiles that can travel many times faster than the speed of sound may sound like science fiction today, but will soon become "deadly reality," he added.

Concrete details about the German initiative remain unknown.

China slips through the 'holes'

Maas' announcement came six weeks after US President Donald Trump announced he would be taking the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. Signed in 1987 with the then Soviet Union, the arms control treaty outlined the elimination of land-based mid-range missiles and launchers.

In his announcement, Trump complained that Russia had been violating the treaty.

China is not a signatory to the INF treaty, and analysts believed that US desire to counter Chinese missile build-up played a role in Trump's decision.

Maas also pointed out China's absence from existing disarmament initiatives.

"There are holes in some of the current rules," he said, adding that these let China build up its arms without oversight.

Read more: INF Treaty: Would US dropout begin an arms race with China?

Maas also announced that NATO foreign ministers would discuss the status of the INF treaty at an upcoming meeting in Brussels on December 4, with the aim of winning support from European partners for new global arms control measures.

cmb/sms (dpa, AFP)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.