1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Opinion: A Model for Successful Pressure Against Rogue Nations?

Peter PhilippDecember 22, 2003

Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, has done an about face, and agreed to give up his weapons of mass destruction. But the case of Libya is different from that of Iran and North Korea, argues Peter Philipp.

It's likely economic considerations motivated Gadhafi to change course.Image: AP

It seems Moammar Gadhafi, the president of Libya, has managed a U-Turn in the 34th year of his dictatorship. After he unexpectedly agreed to stop producing weapons of mass destruction and submit to unlimited international inspections on Friday, a wayward pariah, as he is considered and handled by many including some of his Arab neighbors, is attempting to emerge as an honorable member of the international community.

The announcement from Tripoli came just one day after Iran signed the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in Vienna, thereby succumbing to mounting international pressure that seems to have irritated some leaders in Teheran. In Libya, the opposite is the case. British and American emissaries negotiated for nine months with Gadhafi without word leaking out. And the negotiations came at the personal initiative of Gadhafi himself. In March, at the start of the war in Iraq, the Libyan leader approached Washington and London and asked them to subject his country to stricter controls.

Britain and America are celebrating the successful conclusion of the negotiations with Gadhafi, as well they should. They are glorifying him as an example for other "rogue states," who they expect to follow Gadhafi's example. But, in the case of Iran, things are very different. For years Teheran has granted inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access, while continuing to secretly work on diverse prohibited programs without managing to develop weapons ready for operation. North Korea is another case. There, such weapons exist, or could be produced quickly. In Libya, by contrast, these weapons, with the exception of a few chemical weapons that Gadhafi is said to have employed in Chad years ago, do not exist -- at least that's how international weapons experts assess the situation.

Libya, despite Gadhafi's at times bizarre politics and his admitted involvement in international terrorism in the past, no longer represents a threat. And as proud as Britian and America are of their "negotiated success," one should be just as proud of every land that resists the temptation to develop weapons of mass destruction and swears them off. In the case of Libya, this did not happen because Gadhafi transformed himself from Saul to Paul, but because he realized he could not otherwise deliver his country from the economic misery it has suffered since its role in the bombing of a plane over Lockerbie and a disco in Berlin.

In August, Libya took responsibility for Lockerbie and the bombing of a French airliner and paid retributions, and the United Nations lifted its sanctions. If he signs the additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, so it would seem Gadhafi's calculations go, the US would also lift its sanctions and invest in Libya. That is what's likely to happen, and that is how it should be. Even reputed rogues should be given the right to redeem themselves -- better late than never.