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Exclusive: German Haiko Mass criticizes UK plans to expand its nuclear weapons

In an exclusive interview with DW on Thursday, Union Foreign Minister Heiko Moss criticized Britain’s plans to expand its nuclear arsenal.

“We do not want nuclear weapons to grow. If you do not want that to happen, you can not expand it,” said Richard Walker, DW’s international editor in Mass Berlin.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday asked the DW Secretary of State to announce that his administration would increase the maximum number of Trident warships in the UK for the first time in more than 30 years.

Mass responded to the federal government: “There are already many nuclear weapons in the world, not very few. That is why we do not want to grow nuclear weapons.”

The Social Democrats said, “The past shows that when there are more nuclear weapons on the one hand, there will be attempts to capture the other. This is the most devastating arms race we have seen in decades.”

The UK sends its Trident missiles on four submarines to maintain counter-strike capability in the event of a nuclear attack, one of which continues to float at sea. This result would increase the number of missiles in the UK nuclear supply by more than 40% – from 180 to 260 warships.

According to Mass., It is important to bind international agreements

When asked directly if he thought the UK decision was wrong, Mass reiterated that Germany wanted to reduce its arsenal, to which he replied, “If that is what you want, it cannot be expanded.”

Emphasizing the importance of international agreements in this regard, he said that people should rely on them to possess mass weapons and prevent their expansion.

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However, he acknowledged that such a situation could only arise if all parties followed the rules.

Without international rules, he said: “We will always see individual states realizing that they have new weapons systems of their own. Unfortunately, this is exactly where we are now. “

The United States uses “clear language” with Russia

Mass was also asked about US President Joe Biden’s recent statements that Biden believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer.”

He declined to comment, but said “there is very clear language in the United States about Russia’s actions, for example in Syria, but also about influencing elections in third countries.”

The German diplomat emphasized the pragmatism associated with this direct approach: “I see US foreign policy as an important indicator that human rights and freedoms are clear, but that being able to sustain them also opens the window to dialogue with Moscow when problems arise. Big challenges like disarmament and climate change. “

Annexation of Crimea “clear violation of international law”

Speaking from Ukraine exactly seven years after Russia annexed Crimea, Mass said the law was a “clear violation of international law” and that the position of Germany and its allies should continue to be violated. He said: “This is not an issue that can be resolved militarily, but we will further clarify this expectation on Russia.”

He said Russia may be interested in normalizing relations with Europe. An important step in improving relations is “resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

When asked if he really believed that Crimea would become part of Ukraine again, Mass said: “This is our position. I feel like this can be a very difficult path. ”

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Lukashenko “tramples on our democratic values”

Mass discussed the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Belarus after last year’s highly competitive elections and the subsequent protests by opposition parties and politicians. Despite the EU’s difficulty in allowing individual states such as the United States to act swiftly in imposing sanctions, Moss called for action at the European level rather than unilaterally.

“We need to make sure that sanctions affect the right people in situations like this, not just civil society as a whole,” Mass said. “So we have to consider the economic consequences of such moves. That is why, in the case of Belarus, we decided to target those responsible. [President Alexander] Lukashenko, but his machine. ”

When asked how he saw the man who is often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator”, Mass said: “He clings to power by dictatorial means and tramples on our democratic values ​​with his feet.”

Richard Walker of DW contributed to this report.