Israeli Nuclear Weapons and Western HypocrisyPosted: August 29, 2009
by Yusuf Fernandez
Published: Aug. 25, 2009 – Al-Manar
Once again, Arab states have announced that this year they will submit a resolution at September’s general assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to force Israel to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and open up its secretive military nuclear programme to international inspections.
Amr Moussa, secretary general of the 22-nation League of Arab States, has sent a letter to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to ask him to support the resolution entitled “Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities.” Currently, Sweden holds the European Union’s rotating presidency. Other letters have been sent to the other 26 EU member countries. The Arab resolution is expected to be put up for a vote at the IAEA general assembly.
The Arab nations consider Israel’s rejection to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the main obstacle to global nuclear disarmament. “What compounds the problem is that the nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel, the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons,” former IAEA director Mohamed Al Baradei wrote. Arab diplomats point to a chronic imbalance of power in the Middle East caused by Israeli nuclear weapons and say that this situation breeds instability.
“It is essential that Israel comply with international resolutions,” Mohammed Sobeih, the assistant secretary general in charge of Palestinian affairs, told reporters in Cairo. “Everyone knows that Israel possesses weapons of mass destruction which could reach as far as 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and all Arab capitals are within this range,” Sobeih added. Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, agreed. “The existing Israeli nuclear capability is the most dangerous strategic threat to Gulf security in the short and medium term,” he said at a conference organized by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies.
Israel is one of the few states in the world that have refused to sign the NPT and is reportedly the only state in the Middle East having nuclear weapons. Israel has maintained a policy known as a “nuclear ambiguity” and neither confirms nor denies the possession of these weapons. The main rationale for this policy is to deny Israel’s Muslim neighbors the argument for developing their own nuclear deterrent.
That policy was, however, shaken in December 2006 when then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acknowledged Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons in an interview with a German TV channel. Previously, during 1991 Gulf War, Israel threatened a nuclear attack on Iraq if this country put chemical or biological warheads on their Scud missiles fired at Israel.
The Israeli military nuclear programme was initiated with French assistance in the 1950s. In 1958 Israel started to build the nuclear reactor in the southern town of Dimona, which became the centerpiece of the programme. Dimona started producing nuclear bombs in 1968. Currently, the Dimona site has a plutonium/tritium production reactor, an underground chemical separation plant and nuclear component fabrication facilities. All of the production and fabrication of special nuclear materials (plutonium, lithium-6, tritium, and enriched and unenriched uranium) takes place at Dimona although the design and assembly of nuclear weapons occurs elsewhere, including an assembly facility operated by Rafael north of Haifa.
The Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu has revealed many details of the Israeli nuclear programme. He said in an interview with American investigator Joe Parko: “I worked from 1976 to 1985 at the Israeli secret underground nuclear weapons production facility at the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev desert. During my time there, I was involved in processing plutonium for 10 nuclear bombs per year,” Vanunu said. “I realized my country had already processed enough plutonium for 200 nuclear weapons. I became really afraid when we started processing Lithium 6 which is only used for the hydrogen bomb. I felt I had to prevent a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East so I took 60 pictures of the underground nuclear weapons processing plant some 75 meters under the Dimona plant.”
“I resigned my post and left Israel in 1986. I first went to Australia and then made a connection with The Times in London. After a group of nuclear scientists verified my photos as proving Israeli nuclear weapons production, my story was published in England,” Vanunu said. “A few months later, I was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Rome and sent secretly by ship to Israel where I was subjected to a closed military trial without counsel. I was sentenced to 18 years in prison. I spent 12 years in solitary confinement,” Vanunu said.
Photo: Mordechai Vanunu
A report complied by a Washington-based military think tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), claims Israeli nuclear warheads have both air and sea capabilities. The study, authored by former US Defence Department strategist Anthony Cordesman, disclosed that Israel is currently “in possession of 200 nuclear warheads” and has produced nuclear weapons with “a yield of one megaton”. The Zionist state also has low yield neutron bombs able to destroy troops with minimal damage to property.
The report adds that Israel uses US-made F-16 or missiles Jericho-1 and 2 to deliver the warheads. The government of Israel has also recently bought three German Dolphin Class 800 submarines to have a strike capability with nuclear cruise missiles launched from the sea.
The existence of a nuclear-armed Israel shows the hypocrisy of Western powers that continue to show their “deepening concern” about the “potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon by Iran”. At a White House press conference on 18 May 2009, US President Barack Obama expressed “deepening concern” about “the potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon by Iran.” He continued: “Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would not only be a threat to Israel and a threat to the United States, but would be profoundly destabilizing in the international community as a whole and could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
In his speech, Obama “forgot” to mention the Israeli nuclear arsenal, which is considered by Middle East Muslim nations as a threat. US officials never speak about the Israeli threat to Muslim nations because, according to their view, Arab and Muslim nations do no have the right to live in security. Only Israel and the US do. Actually, the US policy in the Middle East seeks to preserve Israel´s nuclear monopoly and its ability to threaten and blackmail Arab and Muslim nations. Israel thinks that if it attacks any Muslim country of the Middle East, the latter will hold back from retaliating due to fears of Israel’s nuclear weapons. This nuclear power feeds Israel’s superiority sentiment and sustains its peace “rejectionism” to paraphrase US political activist and author Noam Chomsky, by giving it a false sense of invincibility.
Unlike Israel, Iran has signed the NPT and their installations are opened to IAEA inspectors. Despite many years of inspections, the agency has found no evidence that Iran has, or ever had, a nuclear weapons programme, although Western media is giving the opposite impression.
Iran has repeatedly assured that its nuclear programme is peaceful and is aimed at providing the energy-hungry country with the power it needs to develop its industry and save a large amount of oil that is being consumed at home and could be exported instead. Furthermore, the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa on September 2004 saying that “the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons”. The Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has also promoted the “historic idea” of a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction, which is supported by Arab countries in the region.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has never attacked or invaded its neighbors. The only war in which Iran has been involved since the Islamic Revolution, the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, was initiated by Saddam Hussein’s regime. When Iranian forces were attacked with chemical weapons by Saddam’s troops during that war, Iran did not retaliate against the Iraqis due to religious and political considerations.
In contrast, Israel is currently occupying territories of three Arab states, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, and has launched bloody wars against its neighbors, including against Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-2009. In these wars, Israel illegally employed weapons, such as white phosphorus, against civilians and committed numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity, some of which have been reported by UN commissions of inquiry. Others countries of the region, such as Iran or Egypt, have also been threatened by Israeli officials and politicians.
The Western demand for Iran to stop the uranium enrichment process is unacceptable for any sovereign nation. The uranium enrichment process is allowed by the Article IV (1) of the NPT, so long as it is for civil nuclear purposes. Actually, the US/EU, which continue ignoring Israel’s nuclear arsenal of more than 200 warheads, are demanding Iran to renounce a legal right, which does not contradict the peaceful nature of its programme. The IAEA has testified that only low enriched uranium suitable for a power generation reactor is being produced in the Iranian Natanz plant and that none of it has been diverted from the facility for other purposes. This Western demand is also profoundly discriminatory against Iran, since no objection has ever been raised to other countries -or even to Iran itself during the time of the Shah’s regime- which have enrichment plants on their respective territories in order to manufacture fuel for their reactors.
However, the international community is increasingly aware of this hypocrisy and double standards and is also demanding the end of Israel exceptionalism and its submission to the rules of the non-proliferation regime. The IAEA cannot maintain its current policies without falling into total discredit. The same can be said about the United States and EU states, which demand the disarmament of Iran from even the “knowledge to produce nuclear weapons” while turning a blind eye on Israel’s development of a nuclear arsenal.
Therefore, Obama’s above-mentioned claims about “the Iranian nuclear threat” are a blatant lie and clear example of dishonesty. If Obama wants really to improve the currently strained relations between his country and the Muslim world, he will have to take into account that he will fail in his goal if he keeps on pursuing aggressive and hypocritical policies towards Iran, which is not only one of the main centers of the Islamic world, but a very popular country among Muslim masses. If he believes that this objective can be achieved by shaking hands with some Arab and Muslim dictators without any legitimacy beyond their close circles of well-paid advisors and military and police chiefs, he is completely wrong.