EU Parliament calls NATO nuclear warheads in Europe "anachronistic"
Mar 10, 2010, 17:29 GMT
Strasbourg - NATO's tactical nuclear weapons in Europe are a 'strategic anachronism' that needs to be gradually eliminated in cooperation with Russia, the European Parliament said in a resolution approved Wednesday.
The move follows on from the letter sent in February by the foreign ministers of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Norway to NATO's secretary general, asking for a review of the defence alliance's nuclear policy at an upcoming summit in April.
In a resolution approved in Strasbourg, France, members of the parliament (MEPs) 'drew attention to the strategic anachronism of tactical nuclear weapons and the need for Europe to contribute to their reduction and to eliminate them from European soil in the context of a broader dialogue with Russia.'
They also stressed that withdrawal of European tactical warheads could contribute to the vision of a 'world without nuclear weapons,' expressed last year in Prague by United States President Barack Obama, during his first trip to Europe.
The parliament's initiative - which has no legally binding value - was welcomed by the leader of the social-democratic grouping.
'President Obama has created the opportunity to move closer to a nuclear-free world. We expect EU ministers to support this commitment and to propose an ambitious timetable for achieving it,' Martin Schulz said.
The presence of NATO nuclear warheads on European soil is set to be discussed at a meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers in Tallinn, Estonia, on April 22 and 23.
The talks will take place ahead of an international conference to be held in May in New York on the review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
An estimated 150 to 200 tactical nuclear weapons are currently deployed in five NATO states which do not have nuclear-power status - Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
An Italian social-democratic MEP criticized his country's government for not joining EU partners who also host NATO's warheads in calling for a review of the alliance's nuclear policy.
'It is time for the Italian government to end its incomprehensible silence on the subject and to assume a position similar to other European countries in its situation,' Roberto Gualtieri said.