Why is nuclear diplomacy different? Let me tell you…

[By: Susi Snyder]

Across the globe the majority of people want a nuclear weapons free world.  The big question is how to get there, and when?  Finding a convergence in very diverse views is part of nuclear diplomacy. Nuclear weapons are more than a weapons system, they have become a symbol of great power status.  When you look at the Permanent Five members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK & US), they all have nuclear weapons.  Disarmament diplomacy is

different when dealing with nuclear weapons.  Those who have nuclear weapons consider themselves to be, in some cases, above the law.

Nuclear diplomacy also means a delicate balancing act.  Not only does it deal with the weapons themselves, but it also deals with the technical knowledge needed to make nuclear weapons. The same technical know-how needed to generate nuclear power. The only treaty governing nuclear weapons makes this even more difficult- as it seeks to guarantee the right of any country party to the treaty to develop their own nuclear capability- as long as it is for peaceful purposes. Who judges intent? Well that has led to a number of controversies (and more than one war) in the last generation.

Perhaps Mohamed ElBaradei (former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, charged with making sure that nuclear programmes stay peaceful) said it best when he  wrote in his 2011 book “both the benefits and insecurities of nuclear science must be addressed cooperatively by the international community”.  He went on to say that “nuclear diplomacy is a hands-on discipline requiring direct engagement, restraint and long-term commitment.”

Nuclear diplomacy is power politics of the highest order. Why is nuclear diplomacy different than other types of diplomacy?  Because nuclear weapons are different than other types of weapons.

You can also read this blog on the No Nukes website

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