NATO rejects France's offer to extend nuclear protection to whole Europe
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 16 February 2020 10:59 AM
NATO's chief has rejected a call by France's President Emmanuel Macron to put the country's nuclear deterrence capabilities at the center of defense strategies adopted by the European Union (EU) members.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg dismissed Macron's call for a European "strategic dialog" about the role of France's nuclear weapons and said a "tried and tested" deterrent was already in place.
Hailing France as a "highly valued ally" whose nuclear capabilities contributed to NATO's overall security, Stoltenberg said, however, that Europe was already protected by what he called nuclear deterrence by the atomic weapons of member states Britain and the United States.
"We have to remember that we have a European nuclear deterrent today – 28 allies deliver that every day and it's not only a promise, but it's something that has been there for decades," Stoltenberg told reporters at the international conference. "It's tried and tested, we exercise it, and it's institutionalized, and it is the ultimate security guarantee for Europe."
Britain's departure from the EU last month has made France the bloc's only nuclear power, but Paris has refused to put its nuclear deterrence capabilities under the auspices of the EU or NATO.
In a major speech in Paris last week, Macron claimed France's nuclear arsenal now had "a European dimension" after Britain's exit from the EU.
The French president also reiterated his previous calls for Europe's defensive autonomy from the US and the reduction of reliance on other world powers.
"The issue is not for Europeans to know whether they must defend themselves with or without Washington," Macron said during the speech. "But our security derives also, inevitably, from a greater capacity by Europeans to act autonomously."
Stoltenberg clashed with Macron last year after the French president said NATO was suffering from "brain death," and described the US-led military alliance as strategically and politically defunct.
US President Donald Trump has been a fierce NATO critic, mostly accusing other military alliance members of not paying their "fair share."
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