USA & WEST GERMANY
INTRODUCTION: President Leonid Brezhnev said on Monday (23 November) the Soviet Union would be prepared to negotiate a reduction "not of dozens, but hundreds" of nuclear weapons at the forthcoming Geneva talks with the United States.
USA & WEST GERMANY
Bonn, September 1981: GVs Demonstrators with banners. (3 SHOTS)
GV PAN Large crowd at rally
Background: USA & WEST GERMANY
INTRODUCTION: President Leonid Brezhnev said on Monday (23 November) the Soviet Union would be prepared to negotiate a reduction "not of dozens, but hundreds" of nuclear weapons at the forthcoming Geneva talks with the United States. He made this offer during a speech in Bonn after his first day of talks with Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and other West German leaders. During Monday's negotiations, Mr. Brezhnev's spokesman said the Soviet Union would be going to Geneva in a "positive" spirit and would re-examine President Reagan's arms control proposals for Europe. But Herr Schmidt firmly warned Mr. Brezhnev that if there were no agreement in the Geneva nuclear weapons talks by Autum 1983, West Germany would go ahead with the deployment of U.S. Pershing 2 and Cruise missiles."
SYNOPSIS: The political uproar in West Germany over the deployment of these new American missiles and the production of neutron weapons could force Helmut Schmidt into early retirement. The Chancellor's main problem is the growing left-wing opposition in his party to nuclear arms, including the deadly neutron warhead.
Unlike other nuclear weapons, the neutron warhead wouldn't detonate with a huge blast. It produces a smaller explosion, accompanied by heavy radiation, which would kill human being in the path and leave buildings standing. Supporters of the weapon say it would help NATO forces overcome a superior number of Soviet troops and tanks.
During Chancellor Schmidt's visit to Washington last May, President Reagan assured him the United States would modernise the medium-range weapons stationed in Europe. At the same time he said American would call for negotiations to limit those very weapons. At home, West German opposition to the missile plan was increasingly bitter.
It made itself felt in June when West Germany's Defence Minister Hans Apel was supporting NATO plans to install the new Pershing and Cruise missiles. Eggs were thrown at him by angry members of the nation's fast-growing Peace Movement.
In a move unprecedented in the nation's history, the governing Social Democrats opened a formal debate with the Peace Movement. West German General Gerd bastion left the army to join this alliance.
Anti-nuclear demonstrations throughout Europe have grown to mammoth proportions in recent months. A quarter of a million people, mainly young pacifists and ecologists came to Bonn in September to demand a nuclear-free Europe. It highlighted public opposition to the stance taken by Chancellor Schmidt in championing NATO's 1979 decision to deploy the new weapons by 1983.
American Secretary of State Alexander Haig ran into a more violent demonstration when he arrived in West Berlin three days later. He said he was there to underline America's unshakable determination to defend West Berlin. The protesters replied they wouldn't allow themselves to be "protected to death".
West Germany would be in the front line in the event of conventional or any form of nuclear attack. This secret bunker near Bad Kreuznach controls civil defence for Rhineland Palatinate and Snarland. The command post keeps local centres informed during simulated air attacks.
The government supports the building of private nuclear shelters with subsidies and about six per cent of the population have private bunkers in the houses.
These nuclear bomb-proof bunkers at Dernau are not for public viewing. They're a refuge for ministers and other high-ranking officials who can get there before an expected attack and form an emergency government.
President Brezhnev's talks with Herr Schmidt came soon after West Germany's opposition Christian Democrats pledged unreserved support for the NATO missile programme in Europe. But the ruling Social Democrats are divided in their views and Chancellor Schmidt threatens to resign if his party withdraws its support for NATO's nuclear plans.
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