Al-Ahram Weekly Online   9 - 15 November 2006
Issue No. 819
Opinion
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Nuclear diplomacy

By El-Sayed Eleiwa

We've all heard about public diplomacy, development diplomacy, civil society diplomacy, and business diplomacy. Now another type of diplomacy is making its tentative debut: the nuclear kind. As you may know, all five permanent members of the Security Council have nuclear weapons, along with Israel, India, and Pakistan. Now Iran and North Korea seem eager to join the club. But how does one join?

Some countries join the club by getting there first, as is the case with the US, Russia, France, the UK and China. These are the countries that run the show and tell the rest of us what to do. But other countries don't always listen. Israel, India and Pakistan all sneaked in without putting the international community on notice. They broke the rules and got away with it. North Korea has just joined the club, and Iran may be next. The US tried to lure both North Korea and Iran out of their nuclear ambitions through a stick and carrot approach. It enticed North Korea with economic assistance. And it threatened and cajoled Iran at turns. So far, these policies have proven less than successful to say the least.

The future of nuclear diplomacy is a delicate matter. Something has to be done about countries that need nuclear capabilities. Egypt believes that so long as the international community is allowed regular monitoring, it is fine to have a sophisticated nuclear programme. And the US seems to agree. What Egypt is suggesting is a model of rational custodianship. Nations wanting to develop their nuclear capabilities should not be stopped from doing so, but the international community should keep a watchful eye. This is what nuclear diplomacy is all about.

This week's speaker is a professor of political science at Helwan University.

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