German chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to make Germany Europe’s number 1 nuclear superpower over fears that the US will leave NATO.
According to Merkel, Germany will begin the process of acquiring nuclear weapons so that it has a nuclear arsenal that can compete with Russia.
Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior MP from Angela Merkel’s CDU party and foreign policy spokesman, has also called for Germany to take a leading role in the EU becoming a nuclear superpower.
Mr Kiesewetter said he wants Germany to fund efforts for a “nuclear shield” for the bloc by helping Europe’s only nuclear powers, the UK and France, to boost their arsenals.
He said: “Europe must start planning for its own security in case the Americans sharply raise the cost of defending the continent, or decide to leave completely.”
Spiegel magazine has also raised the question of whether it is time for Germany to become a nuclear power.
In an unusual statement, the German government has been forced to deny any interest in the nuclear effort.
A spokesman for Mrs Merkel said: “There are no plans for nuclear armament in Europe involving the federal government.”
It comes ahead of the annual Munich Security Conference with Germany’s nuclear ambitions expected to be discussed.
The calls for a European nuclear power come over fears US president Donald Trump may turn his back on Europe’s defence.
Mr Trump branded NATO “obsolete” last month and has repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The Republican has also accused the defence alliance of taking advantage of the US and reportedly told France president Francois Hollande the US “wants our money back”.
NATO sets its members a target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence, with the US the biggest contributor to the alliance.
But despite calls for Mrs Merkel to bow to nuclear pressure, others have warned the move would start an arms race.
General Hans-Lothar Domröse, a former Nato commander, told The Telegraph: “We would open Pandora’s box and start an arms race.
“It would make it even more difficult to prevent other countries like Iran from getting the bomb.”
Head of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger warned Germany would be in serious violation of international law if it managed to obtain nuclear weapons.
And with Britain poised to leave the EU, calls have been made for Germany to boost its arms to protect the bloc.
Gustav Gressel of the European Council on Foreign Relations said: “If the US is no longer prepared to do its part of the nuclear deterrence, Germany and France will have to fill this vacuum.”