- "In the absence of a legal framework, they could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil," Macron told military officers.
- "Our independence in terms of decision-making is fully compatible with an unshakeable solidarity with our European partners."
- Russia and the United States have pulled out of nuclear treaties, each accusing the other of violations.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday urged Europeans to play a more direct role in the face of global turmoil by participating fully in upcoming negotiations on arms control. Macron also invited European partners to engage in a “strategic dialogue” on the deterrent role of France’s nuclear capacity as the country embarks on a costly modernization of its arsenal.
“In the absence of a legal framework, they could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil,” Macron told military officers. French presidents, traditionally as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, have had to take a stand once and for all on the prospects of the French Armed Forces during its five-year presidency.
Speaking, Macron said that in the event of a nuclear arms race, Europeans should not be just spectators, but said France would work with its European allies to lay the foundations of an international strategy. “Our independence in terms of decision-making is fully compatible with an unshakeable solidarity with our European partners,” Macron said.
US withdraws from the treaty with Russia
As the United States exits the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Europeans must understand that if there is no legal framework, they are likely to enter an arms race in the near future. Macron argues that developing new conventional, or even nuclear weapons, is a big deal. US President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the treaty. In April last year, Reuters news agency, based on a study by the nonprofit CNA, reported that US breach of the INF treaty could be an incentive for both countries to expand their arsenals.
France, the only nuclear power in the European Union
With Britain’s departure from the EU, France is now the only nuclear power in the European Union. It already has about nine nuclear warheads and is the world’s third-largest nuclear power, after Russia and the United States. Macron said on Friday that France has recently reduced the number of its nuclear warheads. The French president calls for a European defense system independent of the United States. US nuclear missiles are deployed in a number of EU member states. There are about five US nuclear warheads available at Bushel Air Base in Germany alone.
End of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The United States and Russia have accused each other of violating the terms of the treaty. Washington insisted that Moscow violated the Intermediate Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with its new 9M729 mid-range missile system, which NATO calls SSC-8. Russia denies the allegations, saying that the missile range is less than 5 kilometers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu on February 2, and suspended his country’s membership of the Interim Nuclear Missile Treaty. He accused the United States of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Putin insisted that there is no need to negotiate with Russia until the United States talks with Russia on a “fair and reasonable” position. The Russian president agreed with his defense secretary’s proposal to build supersonic missiles.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Medium-Range Nuclear Missiles (INF) was an important security guarantee, especially for European countries. Many European politicians are now worried about a new arms race between the United States and Russia.