Question: What is the influence of ICAN? What are you able to implement and achieve with ICAN to control, stop or positively change the current issue?
Sascha Hach: We work on several levels and have different areas of activity. This includes press and public relations. In doing so, we try to raise awareness of our topic, our political goals and our arguments in society. We want them to be discussed more widely so that we can gain support.
We also engage in political education. We go to schools and universities and educate the younger generation, who did not witness the Cold War and for whom the topic is suddenly brought back. Demonstrations and activities are further measures we are taking to increase visibility.
The fourth is lobbying. We seek dialogue with political actors. To be more effective, we speak on all levels. We have followed the international negotiations very closely with our lobbying work and have spoken to the Federal Government and members of parliament. Here at the Mayors for Peace we also address the local and state levels. Basically, we try to influence the opinion-forming process of the parties from below. These are our strategies.
Question: Recently there has been a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. How do you feel about this meeting? Is this a pretence to the public, simulated nuclear safety or does it help us move forward?
Sascha Hach: The meeting was first and foremost a “Two Man Show” and on the part of Donald Trump initially motivated by domestic politics. The result is quite meagre if you look at it from a disarmament perspective. But if you look at the political relations between these two countries, the meeting was a very great success. The fact that the USA is prepared to talk to Kim Jong Un, to hold the dialogue, is a sign of relaxation. South Korean President Moon has pushed ahead with this détente policy. He needs Trump’s blessing for his politics. He has it now – at least for a limited time. This time frame must now be used for the relaxation process between North and South Korea. Trump is certainly not the most positive protagonist in this process, but a necessary one. In this sense, the meeting was necessary, but insufficient.
Question: In the debate the Doomsday Clock was discussed and that we are again on the brink of nuclear war. Do you share this view?
Sascha Hach: Yes, absolutely. I was very worried in the spring when the situation got worse at the end of last year. The American armed forces prepared for a nuclear attack. Security policy advisor Bolten advised Trump to launch a nuclear strike to de-escalate and resolve the North Korean issue. Yes, I think we really stood “just before noon” this year.
Question: What would that mean for Europe and Germany? Are we prepared for such incidents?
Sascha Hach: We are not prepared at all. You can’t be prepared for a nuclear strike. Nor can you really defend yourself once a nuclear war has begun. The problem is that this conflict between the US and North Korea will not stop at their borders if they conduct it now. China has already announced to intervene if the U.S. attack. Then we would no longer be dealing with just one conflict in Korea, but two world powers would be involved. If China were involved in a nuclear conflict – hypothetically – it would not take long for Russia to take action. And then Europe would be right in the middle of it. As soon as there is a nuclear conflict involving Russia and the USA, Europe is a war zone. That’s certain.
Question: Under these conditions, how is it reasonable for Germany to sign the nuclear weapons ban?
Sascha Hach: Germany must do two things. To be able to sign the nuclear weapons ban, US nuclear weapons have to be withdrawn from Germany. In that case, Germany wouldn’t be the first target for a nuclear strike. At present, US nuclear weapons are still stationed on German territory and German soldiers would use them in an emergency. Germany is therefore very actively involved in nuclear activities. The German government is part of NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group (NPG), which decides on operational scenarios and deployment. Under these circumstances, we are, of course, a target for attack.
The first preventive measure to improve safety in Germany in the event of a nuclear war is therefore the withdrawal of nuclear weapons and the dissolution of nuclear participation. Germany does not necessarily have to resign from NATO but should withdraw from NATO’s nuclear weapons policy. Then Germany would be considerably safer and could also join the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.
Question: If we were to withdraw from nuclear participation, but all the others did not, wouldn’t Germany be quite alone?
Sascha Hach: If Germany were to withdraw, other states would follow. It is quite likely that the participating countries Belgium, the Netherlands and possibly also Italy would join the German move. They have all stationed US nuclear weapons. I cannot imagine that this will be tolerated any longer by their people if Germany takes the first step. Germany is a very important NATO state.
Question: You have just pointed out a chain reaction. If the USA and Korea are at war with each other, then China and Russia will join them. Germany would then be directly affected as a war zone. Would the same be true in this case?
Sascha Hach: Right, there would also be a chain reaction. If you pull out and the group of drop-outs increases, you will have the same effect – only in a positive sense. It’s like an inverse vicious circle, only with a positive cycle.
The danger of nuclear war is greater than it has been for a long time. The panel discussion and the subsequent interview with Sascha Hach underlined this. In fact, everyone is called upon to get involved and to work for the abolition of the most dangerous weapons of mankind. ICAN is certainly a good starting point for this, because with its commitment the peace organization has succeeded in drawing up a treaty that prevents the signatories from owning, acquiring and proliferating nuclear weapons. Currently 59 countries have signed this treaty – Germany is not yet one of them.
The opportunity to interview Sascha Hach (ICAN) emerged during the Federal Conference of the Mayors for Peace.
Picture: Screenshot http://www.icanw.org/