BONN, SEPT. 18 -- A Soviet suggestion that the reunited Germany become the sixth permanent member of the U.N. Security Council has accelerated the debate over Germany's new role in the world.
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said today that "it's completely wrong to start a discussion" on a larger role for Germany in the world body. "We have other problems to solve," he said.
But Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said Germany is ready to join the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France and China in the Security Council as part of the reuniting country's desire to take on greater international responsibilities.
The question of Germany joining the five nuclear powers that can exercise veto power in the Security Council was raised by Nikolai Portugalov, a Soviet specialist on Germany, who said that the Germans should join the world's other great powers in taking on global issues.
Germany has no nuclear weapons and has pledged as part of its unification agreement not to become a nuclear power.
Portugalov said that the recent criticism of the Bonn government for not moving more quickly to provide financial or military assistance to the international effort in the Persian Gulf shows that the united Germany must play a larger role in the world.
Making Germany part of the Security Council, the Soviet told a West German newspaper, would make certain that Europe's largest economic power did not renounce its responsibility to the rest of the world.
In recent weeks, the Bonn government has tried simultaneously to allay fears of a united Germany by promising not to become a military superpower and to assure allies it will not shirk responsibilities as Europe's richest, most populous nation.
While Kohl rejected the idea for the time being, he did not permanently dismiss Security Council membership. Bonn's major opposition party, the Social Democrats, also came out against the idea today, saying the Security Council would be too heavily dominated by industrialized nations if Germany were to join the five permanent members.
A former Foreign Ministry official said that joining the Security Council would send the wrong message to countries with latent fears of German power. "Very few of our friends would like to see a Germany that has veto power in any international body," the former aide said.