US envoy to Poland Georgette Mosbacher has suggested that Warsaw could agree to host the American nuclear arsenal in Europe if Germany refuses to do so.
"If Germany wants to reduce its nuclear potential and weaken NATO, then perhaps Poland - which honestly fulfils its [financial] obligations, understands the risks that NATO's eastern flank faces - could host this potential", she stated via Twitter.
Polish officials have not yet responded to Mosbacher's suggestion. The country was earlier eager to host conventional American troops, promising to build "Fort Trump" for that very purpose and to pay for it with its own money. Russia, which has always opposed NATO's eastward expansion and the deployment of nuclear weapons in close proximity with its borders, has not officially commented to the remarks either.
Mosbacher's suggestion comes in response to a statement by Washington's envoy to Germany and acting US spy chief Richard Grenell, who called on Berlin to keep the American nuclear weapons, which he referred to as a "deterrent" against alleged aggression by Russia, China, and North Korea. He went on to criticise the idea of removing the US nukes from Germany, something which has recently been discussed by German politicians, saying that it would be a betrayal of Berlin’s NATO commitments.
"Allies expect Germany to remain a 'power for peace', as Foreign Minister Maas recently said. Rather than eroding the solidarity that undergirds NATO’s nuclear deterrent, now is the time for Germany to maintain its commitments to its allies through continued investments in NATO’s nuclear share", Grenell said.
Grenell is not the only one to pressure Germany on the issue of the American nuclear arsenal, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also urging Berlin to keep the weapons, citing alleged "Russian aggression".
The question of the presence of US nuclear weapons in Germany was raised by Merkel's coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The SPD's parliamentary leader, Rolf Muetzenich, urged for the removal of the US nuclear arms from the country during a discussion of the purchase of American F-18 fighters. These aircraft are needed to deliver nuclear weapons in the event of war, as Germany's ageing Tornado jets will soon be unable to serve this role.
New Cuban Missile Crisis Ahead?
The possible deployment of American nukes near the borders of another nuclear-armed country is reminiscent of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which started with Washington deploying nuclear armaments in Turkey, near the USSR's borders. In response, the Soviet Union deployed its own missiles in Cuba. The mutual deployment of nuclear weapons in such close proximity with each other's borders led to a major escalation in tensions that is believed to have been very close to turning into a full-scale nuclear conflict.
Back in 1962, the heads of the US and USSR, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, managed to find a solution to the emerging conflict that resulted in a mutual withdrawal of their nukes from the territories adjacent to their respective countries.
Following the standoff, the two countries also signed several treaties that limited their strategic nuclear and tactical missile arsenals, such as the START and the INF treaties. The latter was scrapped by the US in August of 2019 under the pretext of alleged violations by Russia - which have never been proven to the public. The fate of the New START treaty, which limits the Russian and American nuclear arsenals, is also in question, as it expires in less than a year, while Washington and Moscow have not yet negotiated an extension of it.
The Kremlin has repeatedly signalled its readiness to prolong the agreement, but the US has not yet engaged in negotiations. Instead, Washington has been suggesting that the treaty should be expanded to encompass China's nuclear arsenal. Beijing, however, has so far refused to take part in such disarmament initiatives.