Nonproliferation as a Matter of Alliances: Australia, Germany, North Korea, and the Nukes

Nuclear umbrella refers to a guarantee by a nuclear weapons state to defend a non-nuclear allied state. Wikipedia offers this definition, plus several existing examples.

The one regionally closest to this blogger is NATO – most European countries, including Germany, are non-nuclear states. Australia looks like an interesting example, too – their then prime minister John Gorton (reportedly) exasperated visiting U.S. secretary of state Dean Rusk by telling him that he didn’t trust the Americans to keep their side of the treaty that underpinned Australia’s security, i. e. the ANZUS treaty.

That was in April 1968. At least, Rusk had probably long become used to overseas politicians who wanted to have some nukes of their own. Just to be juche sort of self-reliant.

Six years earlier than Gorton,West German defense minister Franz-Josef Strauss had wanted nukes for his country, too. He seemed to want them so badly that Henry Kissinger, who had talked with Strauss, apparently in May 1961, notified the U.S. government that American nuclear weapons in West Germany needed to be secured, so as to make it physically impossible (“physisch unmöglich”) [for the Germans] to take them, or to use them without U.S. consent. Strauss might simply take them, if he deemed that necessary.

The U.S. forces reacted by fortifying their nuclear bases, Der Spiegel suggested in January this year, drawing on the memory of former U.S. colonel Charles Sanford (now deceased). German greed for them apparently required the measure, in America’s view.

Either way, West German defense minister Franz-Josef Strauss was publicly advocating that the West German Bundeswehr should be given independent access to nuclear weapons, according to excerpts of “The Color of Truth” as published by the New York Times, apparently in 1999.

And one has to admit that Strauss was of great use as a great bogeyman – rightly or wrongly. Nineteen years after Kissinger, in 1980, the German social democrats were still afraid of Strauss.

All that even though Strauss had long since been relieved of his post as defense minister, to become a civil aviator and a math teacher:

I don’t know if Washington was worried by politicians beyond Australia and West Germany. But once you have such worries, you are a superpower.

An academic named Long Xingchun and Huanqiu Shibao are currently considering a Chinese nuclear umbrella for a country or for countries who are under threat, but have no nukes.

That’s where the story may become a bit complicated, hence over to Sino-NK.

2 Comments to “Nonproliferation as a Matter of Alliances: Australia, Germany, North Korea, and the Nukes”

  1. Complicated? No, never!

    Incidentally, Irish Times (and indeed the whole seemingly of the Irish press) was aflame two days back with news of an Irish socialist/Workers’ Party perhaps guy appealing to aid from the SED and passing on supernotes from the North Koreans in the 1980s.

    That sounded like the most complicated thing I had ever heard.

    Thanks for your central role in that Huanqiu translation. Now the free world is safe for another three hours and one can at least actually have a dinner without wondering when the sky will begin to fall….


  2. Not complicated at all, Adam. Guess how many West German parties or organizations got aid from East Germany (and don’t ask me, I can’t count them). Meantime, West Germany kept saving East Germany from bankruptcy, during the 1980s. Some of those were brokered by Franz-Josef Strauss. That’s how the money went and came here again.


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