Is China a toothless tiger?

Letters to the editor : Is the UN Security Council a Toothless Tiger?

On the nuclear dispute with Iran and North Korea

Developments in the world can make one fear and anxiety, and not just because of the global economic crisis and the associated uncertainties for one's own job. Barack Obama announces that he can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and what follows? The “rogue states”, as George W. Bush called them, are making a name for themselves again

First Iran is opening a uranium factory and can now almost certainly produce an atomic bomb in the foreseeable future. What happens then everyone should imagine for themselves, especially in view of the fact that Iran's President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel "to be wiped off the map". And now North Korea is declaring again that it no longer wants to negotiate its nuclear program. According to its own statement, North Korea has enough uranium to make six atomic bombs.

In the end, both states have been doing nothing for years but playing for time, sometimes negotiating, sometimes not, then after all and now not again. North Korea terminated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, the year before it had expelled the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency and admitted its secret nuclear armament. Despite being largely isolated, the country has for years been relying on the forced construction of nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip for negotiations or for geostrategic power games. Iran seems to want to go a similar path.

What is in store for the world? And above all: Can the international community do anything at all against the nuclear plans of these states? The UN and the Security Council are apparently nothing more than a toothless tiger.

Peter Menzel, Berlin-Spandau

Dear Mr. Menzel,

the greatest advantage of the United Nations is at the same time its greatest disadvantage: namely that almost everyone is there. This means that autocracies and dictatorships are in the majority, while democracies and constitutional states are in the minority.

Russia and China, two non-democratic states, are permanent members of the UN Security Council with the right to veto. The United Nations Security Council - often incorrectly referred to as the “World Security Council” - is not a world government. It is only as assertive as it is in the interests of its permanent members in particular.

In the case of Iran and North Korea, Russia and China share some of the same strategic interests as the European Union and the United States, but some have different strategic interests. In our view, these other strategic interests are only partially legitimate. Both Russia and China hope to be able to limit the influence of the USA in the Near and Middle East and in Southeast Asia through cooperation with the respective regimes. China prefers a divided Korea with a communist North Korea to a united, democratic Korea. And Russia wants to form a gas OPEC with Iran that would enable it to dictate prices for Europe even more than before.

Furthermore, Russia and China attach importance to the principle of “non-interference in internal affairs” which we do not believe it deserves. However, it is in the nature of non-democratic states to withdraw their internal circumstances from international observation and criticism. This is one of the reasons why Russia and China are preventing a tougher approach to Iran and North Korea in the UN Security Council.

You are right when you complain that this behavior harms the authority of the Security Council. But neither the Security Council nor the United Nations should be held responsible for this.

In the case of Iran, we should continue and intensify our dual strategy: on the one hand to offer cooperation, on the other hand to threaten tougher sanctions in the event that Iran is still unwilling to abide by Security Council resolutions and the non-proliferation treaty. This also includes on our part the willingness to apply sanctions outside the United Nations. In the case of North Korea, Germany has no significant influence.

With best regards

- Eckart von Klaeden (CDU), foreign policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag

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