BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will remain part of NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement under its new government, according to a coalition deal agreed on Wednesday, a move that will prevent a rift in the Western military alliance at a time of rising tensions with Russia.
Germany does not possess nuclear weapons, but hosts U.S. nuclear bombs that German Tornado fighter jets are meant to carry to target during a conflict.
It had not been clear how the incoming government would handle the issue, as some lawmakers in the new coalition oppose Berlin’s participation in the nuclear sharing deal.
The coalition agreement supported fulfilling Germany’s commitments to NATO.
“As long as nuclear weapons play a role in NATO’s strategic concept, Germany has an interest in participating in strategic discussions and planning processes,” the document said, referring to Berlin’s seat on NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group.
The new coalition also aims to replace the German air force’s ageing Tornado fighter jet, the only Bundeswehr plane fitted to carry U.S. nuclear bombs.
The German air force has been flying the jet since the 1980s. The defence ministry plans to phase it out between 2025 and 2030 as it is expensive to maintain and difficult to find spare parts for.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had intended to purchase F-18s made by Boeing as a replacement but the decision was postponed until 2022.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that U.S. nuclear weapons might be moved further east if Germany dropped out of the nuclear sharing deal – a move that would anger Russia.
The coalition deal also included an agreement to arm the next generation of German military drones. Some Social Democrats had previously opposed doing so.
The chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan in August will be subject of a parliamentary investigation, according to the coalition deal.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Markus Wacket, Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Timothy Heritage)