Reuven Pedatzur has an interesting article in Haaretz about challenges posed internationally to Israel’s nuclear program. While it doesn’t break much new ground, there is an interesting fear that he warns Israeli policymakers about, which could prove quite fruitful if added to a progressive agenda concerning nuclear weapons in the Middle East:
Israel’s nuclear potential will not disappear from the international agenda. The position of Egypt, which through the years has led the moves to expose Israel’s nuclear capability, is likely only to become more extreme. If there is one issue that all Egyptian parties can unite behind in the election campaign scheduled for the end of the year, it is Israeli nuclear capability. More and more voices are calling for a link between pressure on Iran about its nuclear program and Israel’s nuclear program.
I think this is a brilliant idea. Probably someone’s already thought of, or written about this. But why not approach the problem of nuclear weapons in the Middle East in a comprehensive, rather than country-by-country basis. Instead of singling out Iran, why not say we’ve got to deal with every country in the region which has, or threatens to gain nuclear weapons. This may mean we have to take much more seriously the notion of a nuclear free zone, which currently is something that the nuclear-haves scoff at. Why not tell those nuclear countries that if you want to keep your nukes, then be prepared to admit new members to your club. Members you might prefer to bar, rather than welcome.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to de-nuke along with all other nations in the region, you’ll render the Middle East a lot less volatile place, which will increase your own national security. I don’t think this will work sans peace treaty resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it’s a target worth aiming for.
If Iran were smart it would make a generous offer to resolve the nuclear impasse, but tie it to restrictions on Israel’s nuclear program as well, including its entrance into NPT and decommissioning a specified number of nuclear warheads, and progress toward a nuclear-free Middle East. This would put Israel in the extremely uncomfortable position of being the impediment to a nuclear deal which the U.S., Israel and the western powers claim to have sought for years. Similarly, if Iran truly seeks a region that is more stable and less militarily volatile, it should welcome the opportunity to reduce the danger posed by one of its enemies to all states in the Middle East.
Returning to Israel, someone needs to tell it in no uncertain terms that if it wants to maintain anywhere from 200-400 (depending on whose counting) nuclear warheads, then it will also encourage nations like Iran to follow suit. If Israel wishes to remain outside the Non Proliferation Treaty, then it will have no right to criticize the actions of a country like Iran which is inside NPT. It’s really an issue of hypocrisy. Israel simply cannot make demands of others which it isn’t willing to respect itself.
But, but, sputter-sputter, what about — Pakistan and India! So there! And Pakistan is much more volatile than Iran, internally-politically! So why single out Israel? And are USA’s nukes “stored” or “stockpiled” anywhere nearby? Hmmmm?
No, darlings, the answer is for every country to be fully nuked up.
Something’s got to scare the Lieberman wing of Israeli politicians and militarists (the settler crazies in the military may by now have their fingers all over all those buttons!).
I’m far more scared by Israel, with its ridiculous, puffed-up, practiced, rehearsed, ritual “fears” of non-continued existence than I am of Iran or Pakistan.
Come to think of it, Egypt SHOULD press for a nuke-free zone. Tho it will accomplish nothing.
colindale london says
Attacks by Israel’s illegal settlers upon the Arab population of the Palestinian West Bank is a natural consequence of the extreme right-wing policies of the Likud coalition government of Binyamin Netanyahu. His administration has for some years been offering financial inducements for Israeli families to leave their homes in Israel to settle on Arab land, in direct violation of UN resolutions. This continuing illegal settlement will bring war – which it must now be assumed is what the state of Israel wants. It is now estimated to be the 4th most powerful nuclear weapons state in the world with up to 400 weapons of mass destruction that are uninspected by the IAEA. The only secret nuclear weapons state in the world is arguably now the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East and, therefore, in the world. The United Nations Security Council needs to act, with or without America.
Richard Silverstein says
Alas, this has been the policy of every Israeli gov’t including Labor going back many decades.
Unfortunately, nothing Iran says or what it actually does is taken into account in this debate. For instance, in February 2006, over five years ago, Iran had already called for a nuclear-free Middle East. Iran is the only one fully compliant with the international law concerning nuclear non-proliferation. This is made apparent by published reports from the IAEA. On top of this, a unanimity of US intelligence agencies STILL say there is no evidence to indicate the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program.
On the other hand, nothing that goes against Israel shows up in the press either. Neither does America’s criminal enabling of Israel’s nuclear wrongdoing — some behavior that critically violates laws controlling US aid to Israel (or any country) and international laws worthy of the Hague.
Nor was it trumpeted when 189 countries agreed at the last NPT Review to force Israel to come clean about its nukes, even getting a backpedaling US to sign the demand.
Iran is in clear violation of the agreements it signed with regard to NPT, as last year’s IAEA report, several Security Council actions (requiring additional NPT protocols, imposing sanctions), and numerous press reports have made clear. That’s why the UN imposed extra treaty restrictions on Iran more than 4 years ago. But it is also true that the violations, in and of themselves, do NOT mean Iran is actually developing nuclear weapons currently.
I’m uncomfortable with nuclear weapons owned by anyone. But Pakistan, Israel and Iran would be high on my list of unstable and/or irresponsible nations that cause special discomfort.
Link us to the press reports that show Iran VIOLATED the NPT in any fashion.
You are from Mars with these arguments. You have literally inverted reality without having a scintilla of proof to support it.
Google “IAEA iran npt violation” and you get almost 2 million hits — journalistic and official. READ them yourself.
That’s BS. The correct search would be “+IAEA +iran +npt +violation” which gives ~682,000 hits.
Executive summary “The answer isn’t black and white. It depends on whom you ask – and how deftly you define “violation.” But in essence, Iran is following the letter but not always the spirit of the NPT”
When is Israel going to comply with the NPT? Israel has a reputation for proliferation – those attempts to sell nuke technology to South Africa for example.
When you use the Google boolean AND, Google applies some extra (annoying and hidden) magic and YOUR hit list would differ from mine, due to our search histories being different. But as you can see from using my search terms (which presume boolean OR) the regular Google ranking shows entirely hits that would be normal for searching with AND.
A simple explanation is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s
Israel doesn’t have to comply with the NPT. It hasn’t signed the NPT. I don’t like it, but it does not give Iran an excuse to sign the NPT and flout it.
The thing is nobody get’s ‘permission’ to acquire nuclear weapons. It’s something that is usually presented as a ‘fait accompli’.
As a detterent they work fine. If however, someone who thinks he is guided by a higher power gets control that is when it can become a problem. Or if there is an accident.
All of these ‘non proliferaton’ treaty’s are useless if you really want them.
Richard Silverstein says
They’re not perfect, but better than a rampant, rules-free nuclear arms race.
Richard you are both naive and inefficient. Do you really think there is purpose in chasing every one of the worlds problems and applying law fairly to all when this is barely the assets to deal with the current more threatening problems. If the world was perfect and one union maybe, it is not however…please respond why valuable resources should be used in dealing with non threatening problems
With Israel and Iran threatening to attack each other, it doesn’t seem like a non-threatening problem. The bigger issue is that Israel did not violate the NPT nor international law in any way by developing nuclear weapons. Israel did violate the terms of a commercial contract it had with France, which built the first reactor Israel used to breed plutonium from uranium. The French thoughtfully provided a similar reactor to Iraq.
By not signing the NPT, Israel has paid a stiff price — no help with commercial nuclear power and no help with medical radionuclides, for instance. And, as Richard says, Israel’s nukes spur others in the region to crave them — although evidence suggests that Iran’s weapons program (maybe abandoned 10 years ago, maybe not) was triggered by Iraq, not Israel.
Who’s is craving these nukes and actually trying to obtain them. I don’t see that this craving problem has materialized. Israel earned it’s nukes through forward thinking strategy in a time when this was possible, it is much harder now to obtain nukes covertly and who is currently trying aside from Iran? So far Israel has never threatened anyone with the use of it’s nukes and it serves as its final ultimate protection with Russia also subscribing to similar theory on it’s nukes. Remove those aswell? Should we de-nuke the world when we are more knowledgable and the technology can be obtained much quicker, leaving no defense to new rogue nuke programs?
Richard Silverstein says
Oh, please. Knock off the hasbarist garbage. WMD & developing them is in no way “forward thinking.” Was Hiroshima “forward thinking?” Spare us.
Not true & you clearly haven’t read any of the books on this discussion including Avner Cohen’s. Israel contemplated using nukes if it lost the 1967 war & even prepared a crude prototype to use if it had to. By the fact of having 200-400 nuclear warheads it doesn’t have to threaten anyone. A threat is superfluous.
Indeed we should.
The more nuclear programs, the more chance that non-territorial actors will gain access. Where would, say, Israel toss its bombs in retaliation for a nuclear-armed terrorist attack? How would we or the French retaliate for nuclear attacks on our soil? Certainly not with our own nukes. There have been at least a half-dozen thwarted attempts, of terrorists trying to obtain nuclear materials from the old Soviet states, so this is not entirely hypothetical.
It is also easy to imagine massive American intervention on Pakistan soil to secure nukes if the government there fails. What if Syria, today, had nukes?
How then can a world where everyone has nukes be stable?
That’s why support has grown at the UN for a rather well funded “activist” IAEA that is a far better policeman than IAEA was even a dozen years ago and why there is such consensus to take action against North Korea (for real nukes) and Iran (for real NPT violations but maybe not real nukes) and to excuse Israel’s attacks against nascent nuke programs in Iraq and Syria.
I doubt that the IAEA can stop all programs, everywhere. But current policy to contain nukes clearly makes the world a safer place than “if everyone had nukes there would be peace.”
Massachusetts has the nation’s toughest gun control laws, and a gun murder rate well under 4 per 100,000 per year (the nation’s lowest, but still higher than countries with better controls, like Canada). Arizona has no meaningful controls and a gun murder rate just under 20 per year. How can anyone say that if everyone has guns, the criminals will think twice before attacking?