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Middle East should be disarmed, not armed

June 19, 2012

BildAn exception doesn’t prove the rule, it weakens it. Germany is violating its international obligations and its own rules by delivering a nuclear-capable submarine to Israel. Moreover, it risks damaging the conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, planned to take place at the end of this year. The delivery conveys the impression that arming Israel is the way to more peace, rather than regional disarmament.

In Germany it is forbidden to export arms to countries that are involved in an armed conflict. Nor is it allowed to deliver weapons that would worsen an existing conflict. This delivery of submarines violates both these rules. If Germany makes an exception for Israel then they weaken their own arms export guidelines. They are also clearly taking sides in the Middle East conflict.

Germany is obligated to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A German company is exporting a nuclear weapons delivery system to a state that hasn’t even signed the NPT and is acting outside recognised international law. On top of this, because the issue of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East has become a kind of litmus test for the already fragile NPT, Germany is further weakening the treaty. If the conference does not take place then Arab countries are likely to decide the treaty has failed. The whole non-proliferation regime is at stake here.

A historical responsibility

Germany has an historical responsibility to prevent further world wars. The most important step towards peace in the Middle East would be to bring together all the countries of the region to discuss the conditions for disarmament. Israel already has enough offensive weaponry to defend itself and is also the only country in the region to possess nuclear weapons. The submarine export is a disastrous signal contrary to efforts  towards a nuclear weapon-free zone, since it provides an already heavily-armed Israel with even more firepower.

Xanthe Hall, nuclear weapons expert for the German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War / Physicians for Social Responsibility, http://www.ippnw.de

This article was originally published in German as an op-ed by Frankfurter Rundschau online on June 5, 2012.

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