Each day, new technologies are conceived with the purpose of improving human beings life quality. The use given to these technologies depends on the ethical perception each one has; this is why the same technique used to produce enough electric energy for a country, can also be used to destroy the same country.
Every time that new technology is developed, military forces look for a way for using it in creating more effective weapons because they fear that other countries might have better weapons and might challenge them. Unfortunately, this other countries are just trying to catch up or to get ahead because of the same fear. This arm race can only create an apprehensive and hostile attitude between each other. In this aggressive and threatening environment is almost impossible to dialogue and, even more, to implement diplomacy for solving conflicts.
Diplomacy is a profession which principal objective is to represent and to watch over the state's interests and its nation in relation with other states or an international organism.
It is natural for each country to have its own point of view; this can either enrich the debate or cause conflict when wanting to impose over other countries. The key for an appropriate diplomacy is in knowing how to inform, negotiate and represent.
The problem is not diplomacy, but way in which diplomacy is being carried.
Some examples of good will are being showed by some countries like Libya, which surprisingly accepted to dismantle his secret weapons of mass destruction programs, abandoned the attempt of building nuclear weapons and collaborated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors by allowing them free pass through their borders. Another example is South Africa, which signed the NPT in 1991; two years later the IAEA inspectors found evidence of weapons activity, South Africa admitted its violations, said that since 1989 all its weapons were dismantled, and completely cooperated with the inspectors. This is known as a diplomatic success story because South Africa secretly begun and ended its nuclear weapons program.
But despite these apparent successes, the effort to control weapons proliferation by diplomatic means has been an extremely hard job. Some of the 137 member nations, like Iran and North Korea, signed agreements to limit nuclear development, to be later found secretly disobeying them.
The way in which the IAEA works is described as a classic "carrot and stick" method. It can be easily described as a method of rewarding cooperation and punishing disobedience.
They convince nations to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to accept its terms and to allow their strict supervision and verification, and to deal with the possible punishments, by offering them better trade relationships, economical assistance, support in nuclear development for peaceful purposes, between other benefits.
For example the European Union is negotiating with Iran atomic fuel, trade benefits, and a nuclear reactor for civilian use, for Iran to accept the full accomplishment of the IAEA policy.
On the other hand, nations that violate IAEA regulations might face up trade penalties, economic fines, political obstruction or military action.
One example of these sanctions is the economic one applied to North Korea in response of its nuclear development.
In order to avoid these penalties, some nations had decided to practice nuclear activities secretly.
Iran signed in 1970 the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, so to belong to the IAEA, but in 2002 admitted to have been running a secret uranium enrichment plan, a fuel for nuclear weapons. The negotiations between Iran and Great Britain, France and Germany had not given any results on bringing back Iran into the accomplishment of the IAEA regulations. It is well known that the economic and politic alliances between Iran and Russia and three European nations hindered the sanctions deserved for Iran.
North Korea signed the same treaty in the 1985, in return of military concessions from USA, four reactors, 500 000 tons of oil annually (half their needs) from USA, Japan and South Korea; but confessed in 2002 that a nuclear development program was re-started and took out from its territory all the IAEA inspectors. A year later, North Korea abandoned the NPT, and despite the South Korea, USA, Japan, Russia and China negotiations, North Korea had not agreed to return to the organization. Despite all the gifts and concessions North Korea continued developing nuclear weapons, it is estimated that already has enough material for creating eight nuclear bombs, and is asking for more economical assistance to return to the treaty. This can not be called diplomacy, it is extortion.
Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
After their use in the First World War, chemical and biological weapons were prohibited in 1925. The Convention entered to force in 1975, not allowing the development, manufacture, storage or acquisition or biological and toxin weapons, as well as encouraging their destruction. It counts with 153 members, 16 other countries have signed but have not ratified, and 25 others are not part of the treaty. This was balanced by not making any distinction between countries with BW programs and countries without, and by generalizing the prohibition. On the other hand, it does not count with the required verification systems to check its accomplishment.
After the end of cold war it was revised and a verification procedure was negotiated; but its ineffectiveness was exposed in 2001 when, after six years of cautious diplomatic work, negotiations went down by the United States' non-fulfillment of the Protocol and its refusal to the verification, by arguing that it would be excessively invasive and inadequate.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
The UK Ministry of Defense declared to the NPT parties "Our record in implementing our nuclear disarmament obligations under the NPT is extremely good."1 while in the past eighteen months UK government has been planning the improvement of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) -by the installation of new laboratories, the replacement of the Helen laser for Orion, and the creation of hydrodynamics facilities- as well as making secret negotiations with USA about their nuclear collaboration (Mutual Defense Agreement), together with the announce of the replacement of the Trident nuclear submarine system, not to mention a 25 year contract and a £5 billion investment with US arms manufacturers and British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.
The replacement of Trident is not necessary because it was built with a lifetime for 2024. The premature decision of its replacement can be due to the government's abandon of the reliance on nuclear prevention organizations; as can be inferred from the next asseveration: "the continuing risk from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the certainty that a number of other countries will retain substantial nuclear arsenals, mean that our minimum nuclear deterrent capability, currently represented by Trident, is likely to remain a necessary element of our security. Decisions on whether to replace Trident are not needed this Parliament but are likely to be required in the next one. We will therefore continue to take appropriate steps to ensure that the range of options for maintaining a nuclear deterrent capability is kept open until that decision point 2."
There is no reason for defending if we can be certain that we are not going to be attacked. The extreme actions taken by almost every country are direct consequences of the insecurity they have. This insecurity is based in the fact that they do not trust the peace-keeping organizations, that they know how to violate they terms and that they wonder if other countries know how to violate them too. This can only prove that those organizations are useless if not even their members can trust in them.
To justify the upgraded hydrodynamic and laser facilities, UK declares that they will be needed to storage safely the existing warheads without resorting to secretive testing. But that level of testing does not require such sophisticated and expensive equipment, unless they are planning to research, design and test new nuclear designs.
Believing that by arming more we can defend from other countries is like believing that by pouring gasoline into a fire we can extinguish it.
Copyright by Kelly Ann Thomas
1. Letter to Di McDonald. Nuclear Information Service. From Sara Perring, Counter Proliferation and Arms Control, Ministry of Defence, March 17, 2004.
2. Delivering Security in a Changed World. Defence White Paper. December 2003.