Ban on nuclear weapons: majority is in favor of negotiations

Three quarters of Germans are in favor of entering into negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons. The German government has boycotted these so far.

Almost 140 states are negotiating a ban on nuclear weapons, Germany is not taking part Photo: dpa

Three quarters of all Germans eligible to vote want the German government to participate in the UN negotiations on a worldwide and complete ban on nuclear weapons, which it has boycotted so far. Twelve percent each are against or have no opinion on the issue. This is the result of a representative survey, the results of which are available to the taz.

The negotiations on the nuclear weapons ban, in which 138 of the 193 member states in the UN General Assembly are participating so far, enter the second round on Thursday. Russia and the USA are absent, as are most European NATO states, including Germany.

In the survey, 77 percent of CDU/CSU voters favored the involvement of the German government. Among SPD supporters, approval is 83 percent. The proportion of yes votes is even higher among Green voters (85 percent) and those of the Left and FDP (86 percent each). Among AfD voters, 67 percent support the demand for German participation in negotiations.

In parallel with the age of the respondents, support rises steadily from 67 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds to 81 percent among respondents over 55. The representative survey of 2,072 German citizens over the age of 18 was conducted at the end of May by the British polling institute YouGov.

"These survey results show that the German government is acting against the will of the population with its blockade attitude," said Sascha Hach of the German section of the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which commissioned the survey. He said the German government should take the results "as an opportunity to reconsider its position and participate constructively in the round of negotiations beginning this week." This was also demanded by Pax Christi, Medico International, Oxfam and other non-governmental organizations in a letter to Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel last week.

Sascha Hach, ICAN

"The government is acting against the will of the people"

Gabriel, on the other hand, again justified the German government’s boycott of the negotiations. It is "good and right that the United Nations is striving for a world free of nuclear weapons," he told dpa. But negotiating in the UN "of course makes little sense" since "of all countries with nuclear weapons do not participate in it." Instead of a general ban, the Foreign Office is counting on progress with existing instruments such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Although several nuclear weapons states have signed this treaty, its practical effects are limited.

Gabriel’s arguments are "pretextual," criticized Xanthe Hall of the International Medical Association against Nuclear War. A ban would have "practical effects even without the nuclear-weapon states." For then no more bombs would be allowed to be stored on the soil of the signatory countries. From Germany, for example, the U.S. nuclear weapons in Buchel would have to be withdrawn. "That is probably the real reason why Gabriel is against a ban," Hall explained.

"Gabriel’s refusal to talk is tantamount to a diplomatic declaration of bankruptcy," criticized ICAN spokesman Hach. By not participating, the foreign minister was "putting power politics above peace and arms control."