In a guest column for the magazine Der Spiegel, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the INF Treaty banning ground-based medium-range missiles, from which the US administration decided to withdraw on October 20, was one of the most important arms control and disarmament agreements in history.
“An end to the INF Treaty would bring down one of the greatest achievements of disarmament policy. This would fuel uncertainties and global armament tendencies,” Germany's foreign minister said.
Maas made four points which he believes should guide new disarmament policies.
First, he insisted that full cooperation and data exchange between the actors is crucial, noting that common interests must prevail over mutual distrust “Even during the Cold War, there was a permanent dialogue to create transparency and avoid misjudgments,” Maas noted.
Second, he suggested that there should be proposals for a comprehensive regime of transparency for missiles agreements, not only between Europe, the US, and Russia but also in the Middle East and East Asia, where the race for cruise missiles might escalate conflicts.
Fourth, Maas suggested that precautions should be taken regarding weapons of the future, even though some of them might now sound like science fiction. Space weapons, missiles that are much faster than the speed of sound, killer-robots that can kill without human control should be banned by the United Nations. Maas said Germany will promote regulating weapons of the future at an international conference in Berlin in 2019.
“Germany must remain a power of peace: we will stand up for disarmament and arms control persistently and vigorously. Only in this way can a global arms race be stopped. Only in this way can we secure peace in Europe,” he concluded.
On October 20, Trump said the United States would withdraw from the INF, claiming that Moscow was not adhering the agreement. The Kremlin has rejected the accusations, adding that Russia would be forced to take measures to ensure the country's security if the treaty is terminated by the United States.
Europe has expressed concern over the decision, with Germany saying that it advocates the preservation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).