In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has come into the focus of public attention. On the one hand, there is the danger that terrorists may gain access to such weapons or to materials from which to produce them. And on the other hand, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia is reason for concern. This threat must be contained by means of multilateral agreements, export controls and political dialogue with the countries concerned.
The “Global Partnership Against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction” was established during the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Canada, in 2002. Germany does not have such weapons but has announced it will spend up to 1.5 billion euros for projects in the framework of this initiative over the next ten years. The emphasis will be on the destruction of chemical weapons, the physical security of nuclear materials and the disposal of nuclear submarines. In a joint effort, the G8 countries want to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons so they do not fall into the hands of terrorists.
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Restrictive Arms Exports
Weapons and other defence equipment may only be exported from Germany if the Federal Government authorizes such exports. This also applies to civilian goods that may be used for military purposes, too (so-called dual-use goods). Exports to countries outside the EU
and countries an equal footing with them (Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland) are authorized only in exceptional cases and only if the importing country observes human rights and does not resell the weapons imported.
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Small Arms and Light Weapons
Small arms (rifles, pistols) and light weapons (guns, cannons) can be procured and operated easily and can do a lot of damage: Air defence missiles in the hands of children are hazards to civil aviation, armed bands of children are looting villages in the Congo and elsewhere. Within the framework of the EU
, the OSCE
, and the UN
, the Federal Government champions tighter controls of the trading of small arms and light weapons so that these do not fall into the wrong hands. It therefore demands that international standards be set for tight export controls and transparency in arms trading. The Bundeswehr
has destroyed more than 97,000 small arms from its inventories. At the same time, the Federal Government supports the destruction of small arms in Albania, Cambodia, Angola and in the Horn of Africa.
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Smuggling of Nuclear Materials
According to intelligence available to German authorities, terrorists have hitherto been unable to obtain nuclear fissile material for the manufacturing of nuclear devices. In order for this to remain so, Germany participates in a reporting procedure of the IAEO
and observes the “International Guidelines for the Management of Civil Plutonium” and the “London Guidelines for Nuclear Transfer,” which are designed to render nuclear smuggling impossible. Although terrorists will hardly be able to build a nuclear device, it is nevertheless conceivable that they use radioactive material as an ingredient for a dirty bomb. It must also be feared that countries like North Korea are utilizing their civil reactors to build nuclear weapons. The Federal Government therefore endeavours to tighten export controls in the field of nuclear materials, in particular for dual-use goods that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. The same applies to materials that are suitable for the manufacturing of chemical and biological weapons.
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