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Maas: Everyone must junk nukes, not just Germany

November 22, 2019

Only a world without nuclear weapons can be a "safe world," the German foreign minister said on a trip to Hiroshima. But that requires international consensus, and Germany won't be taking the first step.

A Pershing II missile
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Schrader

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Hiroshima on Friday to commemorate victims of the 1945 nuclear attack and  promote a nuclear-weapon-free world

"One day living in a nuclear-weapon-free world has to remain our goal," he said. "Even though that will not be easy and may take a long time."

Read more: Opinion: Europe caught in a dangerous nuclear trap

Germany not to disarm 

However, the foreign minister said he was against a unilateral German withdrawal of nuclear weapons.

"It's no use if nuclear weapons are just moved from one country to another. If they are to disappear then they should disappear everywhere," he said. "As far as nuclear disarmament is concerned, we need agreements on a broad basis, not only in individual countries."

Germany currently stores around 20 US nuclear warheads. The armed forces have Tornado jets on standby to deploy them if necessary.

Graph showing nuclear stockpiles

In the memorial book of the Peace Museum of Hiroshima, Maas wrote: "The memory of suffering by the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never fade. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that such suffering is never repeated. For a peaceful world without nuclear weapons!" 

Attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The US nuclear attack on Hiroshima at the end of World War II almost completely destroyed the city and killed around 140,000 people, mostly civilians.

Tens of thousands died subsequently as a result of the long-term effects of the radiation. Three days after the attack on Hiroshima, US forces dropped another nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki, where a further 70,000 people died. 

The bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict in history.

Read more: Opinion: Iran must save P5+1 nuclear deal — not the EU

Nuclear disarmament efforts will be discussed at the upcoming G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Nagoya, which Maas will attend.

The agenda also includes talks on free trade, the United Nations' goals for sustainable development, and policies on Africa.

mvb/rt (AFP, dpa)

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