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German FM urges Europe to stop mounting nuclear arms race

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has urged Europe to push for nuclear disarmament by starting new initiatives for arms control after the US announced its new strategy to upgrade and expand its nuclear arsenal.

"As in the times of the Cold War, we in Europe are especially endangered" by "a renewed nuclear arms race", Gabriel said on Sunday.

"That is why precisely we in Europe must begin new initiatives for arms control and disarmament," he added.

The top German diplomat made the comments after the Pentagon on Friday unveiled Washington's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), a new nuclear arms policy that purportedly aims to revamp the US nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons.

The NPR, the first update to the military’s nuclear strategy since 2010, outlines the Pentagon's nuclear ambitions under President Donald Trump, but marks a sobering break from the vision for America's atomic future under his predecessor Barack Obama.

"The strategy develops capabilities aimed at making use of nuclear weapons less likely," Trump said in a statement. "It enhances deterrence of strategic attacks against our Nation, and our allies and partners that may not come in the form of nuclear weapons."

Gabriel also criticized developing new weapons and called for "existing arms control treaties to be upheld unconditionally."

The German foreign minister vowed that Berlin would press "with its allies and partners" for further disarmament across the world.

"Our long-term aim must continue to be a world without nuclear weapons," he pointed out.

Germany has no arsenal of its own, but the Pentagon maintained nuclear warheads in the country as part of a gigantic military presence designed to deter Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

US arms control groups have condemned the new US nuclear weapons strategy, saying it could raise the risk of nuclear war.

The new policy, which came largely to counter Russia, effectively ends Obama-era efforts to reduce the size and scope of the US arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said on Saturday that Washington's reliance on nuclear arms violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"The US Nuclear Posture Review reflects greater reliance on nukes in violation of the #NPT, bringing humankind closer to annihilation. No wonder the Doomsday Clock is at its most dangerous since 1953. Trump’s obduracy in killing the #JCPOA stems from the same dangerous imprudence," Zarif tweeted.

In 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT, was ratified, and it was extended indefinitely in 1995. Under the treaty, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - China, Russia, France, Britain and the United States - were acknowledged as nuclear powers, and other countries that joined the treaty agreed not to pursue nuclear weapons development, although they are allowed to use nuclear technology for non-military purposes.

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