21 October 2005 - NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS DISCUSS THE CHALLENGES OF NANOTECHNOLOGY IN GERMANY [PRESS COMMUNIQUE]
Members of the NATO PA Science and Technology Committee's Sub-Committee on Proliferation of Military Technology visited Hamburg, Berlin and Munich (Germany) from 17 to 20 October 2005. Led by Senator Pierre Claude Nolin of Canada and Mr Lothar Ibruegger of Germany, members of the Sub-Committee were particularly interested in examining the chances and the risks of nanotechnology (NT) as well as possible military applications of NT.
The potential and revolutionary nature of this emerging technology is well understood in Germany, the third nation in the world (after the US and Japan) in NT research and development. The NATO legislators met with and were briefed by eminent German scientists in the field of NT: Prof. Dr. Roland Wiesendanger, Dr. Götz Neuneck, Prof. Dr. Dieter Bimberg, Prof. Dr. Wolfgand M. Heckl, and others. Members of the Sub-Committee also visited NT laboratories in Hamburg and Berlin.
NT (i.e., manipulation of material on a molecular or atomic level) promises to introduce revolutionary changes in medicine, electronics, energetics and manufacturing. Possible military applications are likely to bring enhancements in communication systems, transportation, armour and camouflage, etc. NT may be able to provide more efficient tools for the detection of dangerous materials. On the other hand, thanks to NT, biological and chemical warfare could potentially become more manageable.
The German NT experts advised demystifying NT and refraining any national or international legislation that could limit or even ban the development of NT. However, some scholars, such as Prof. Dr. Heckl, recommended that politicians follow the issue on a constant basis and amend respective legislation to encompass nanomaterials. An assessment of the possible societal and environmental impact of NT should be properly encouraged and funded.
During the visit, NATO parliamentarians also discussed issues related to Iran's nuclear policy and its implications on nuclear non-proliferation regimes. They also visited Airbus Industry Germany facilities in Hamburg.