That’s right. You read that correctly. Israel currently has no specific laws or regulations that prevent its citizens from trading with countries which either are developing nuclear weapons or may develop them in future. Israeli business interests are free to negotiate deals to provide military technology, including components which might be used in nuclear weapons productions, to the highest bidder. That includes U.S. military rivals like China, North Korea and even Iran (yes, Israeli arms dealers have sold military jet plane parts to Iran).
I’ve written posts here before detailing Israeli oil imports from Iran which defied U.S. and international sanctions. Much of the oil ISIS pumped from Iraq and Syria (until recently) was funneled through Kurdish territory and then shipped to Israel. Israel is the Barbary pirate of world commerce. It trades with pretty much anyone who can offer cash on the barrel-head.
If you’re scratching your head right about now and wondering–how can a country which howls about how little the world is doing to stop Iran’s supposed march toward The Bomb, not honor the sanctions regime meant to prevent that very thing? Ah, you naïf! You don’t know how the world works–or at least that little slice of it along the eastern Mediterranean coast. Israel marches to its own drummer. Follows its own rules–or no rules. Whatever works best for Israel. If its dealings fly in the face of the interests of the rest of the world–so be it!
All of which leads me to a new proposal by the Israeli Treasury ministry (Hebrew) to bring Israel into compliance with international financial standards discouraging nuclear proliferation. The legislation would prohibit any trade with manufacturers who could enable a country to produce WMD. It is meant to eliminate current loopholes which enable business deals with Iran or North Korea. This would supposedly bring Israeli into compliance with international protocols as defined by the Financial Action Task Force, a body of 138 countries implementing UN resolutions discouraging financing of terrorism, drug-trafficking and proliferation. It would enable Israel to play a role in the international effort to stop these activities.
We ought to stop here and ask the obvious question: why does the world bother to pay any attention to Israel when its own behavior is so patently hypocritical? It is a nuclear-armed nation screaming at the world for not doing more to stop Iran from getting a bomb. Yet it is engaged in trade with Iran and other such nations in violation of these sanctions. And when it wishes to hide such direct trade it arranges for the goods to be shipped via third parties to their intended destination. That’s how Israel has hidden some of its weapons trading with Burma. It shipped some of the goods via China to Burma. In that way, the goods appear to come from China, rather than Israel.
Further, given that Israel is one of the more corrupt countries in the world, especially in regards to its weapons exports (cf. the billion-dollar scandal over the German submarines), who has any confidence that such a law would stop any Israeli from selling anything to Iran, North Korea, Burma, or any other rogue state?
This begs another more general question: when you look at the agenda of FATF, it is to stop nuclear proliferation (among other things). That is, to prevent non-nuclear states from getting nuclear weapons. The organization is totally silent about the nuclear weapons programs of countries who currently have such weapons. It does not ask anyone to stop commercial dealings with countries which produce nuclear weapons. It does not discourage the financing of the manufacture of nuclear weapons in these nations. So why are there two standards here? Why are the states which have such weapons good and the ones which don’t bad? If we believe that nuclear weapons are bad (and they are), why do we arrogate to ourselves the right to say that the guys without nukes are the bad ones?
If you are consistent you should embargo all trade that facilitates the making of nuclear weapons no matter which country is making them.
I raise this question because it’s especially poignant regarding Israel. This is a country which has two hundred nuclear weapons. A country whose leaders have seriously contemplated using them against their enemies during past wars (though ultimately they decided not to do so). A country which defies nuclear safeguards observed by the rest of the world; refuses to join NPT. It has also refused to consider a nuclear free zone in the Middle East and sabotaged efforts by Arab states to declare one.
Why isn’t Israel one of the nations the world is sanctioning for its own nuclear proliferation? And why isn’t the world laughing derisively at this too-little, too-late effort by the Israeli treasury to bring Israel into compliance with FATF regulations?
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