TIME TO COME CLEAN ON THE BOMB
by Avner Cohen Haíaretz - February 7, 2006
Forwarded with comments by Emanuel A. Winston,
Middle East Analyst & Commentator
The following cogent explanation for Israel to have a Nuclear Deterrence is measured and reasonable. However, there is another side to this problem which should be aired to both the public and the American Congress. Israel has from the onset (1947-48) had dedicated enemies who simply didnít want Israel to come into existence as a homeland for the Jews. The Arabs made it plain that they would occupy and destroy the Jewish State. They made every attempt to do so but, were unsuccessful.
But, there was a more dedicated adversary who not only didnít want a State of Israel but had deep vested interests in the Arab nations. This was the U.S. State Department who had a history of an animus toward the Jews. One can track its most virulent _expression of its early outreach when it didnít have ambassadors in the nations and used a Jesuit missionary network to reach into the nations. Thatís a long story but the concept of Jew Hatred went far beyond locker-room exclusive restricted clubs and real estate anti-Semitism. The State Department wanted the Jewish State eliminated no less than did their friends, the Arab nations.
When Israel acquired a Nuclear-Capability as a significant deterrence, needless to say, this troubled both the Arabs and the State Department officials, both in Washington and by the Ambassadors in all the Arab and Muslim nations. From their earliest days both worked to eliminate Israelís Nuclear Deterrence.
The reasons were plain. Should the Arabs manage in one of their wars to push Israel to the wall where the existence of the Jewish State was in question there was the probability that Israel would use her Nuclear Power as a last resort, destroying the capitols of the Arab nations - along with the oil fields.
So, rather then press the Arabs to terminate their plans to destroy Israel, the State Department chose, instead to strip Israel of her Second Strike Nuclear Capability and allow the Arab armies to over-run Israel who would be limited to conventional weapons and its comparatively small army..
This is the carefully preserved agenda of the State Department who has always been tightly allied with the oil industry. These interests, are, of course, financial which is not only the cash flow from oil sales but, also the cash flow from the lucrative sales of American weapons, infrastructure, goods and services for their leaders, and especially in weapons as it pleases the oil Sheiks.
Keep in mind that in each of our Embassies there are thousands of U.S. State Department employees who enjoy a close personal relationship they develop with Arab royalty and very rich Arabs. When these State Department diplomats return to the U.S., not only do they represent their Arab friends as lobbyists to the American Government but also they can anticipate well-paid employment after they leave government service. As well connected foreign government officials, they become well-paid lobbyists with unlimited cash behind them to reach the hearts, minds and pockets of Washington politicians at the highest levels of Government. There is presently a strong push to match Israel with Iran so when Iran is stripped of its nuclear capability, Israel will be similarly pressured to give up her Nuclear Deterrence and rely on U.S. promise to come to her aid.
Comments by Emanuel A. Winston, a member of the board of Directors and a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.
TIME TO COME CLEAN ON THE BOMB
by Avner Cohen
HA'ARETZ - Feb. 7, 2006
Every time the subject of the Iranian nuclear issue comes up in international forums - as happened over the weekend when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided to transfer the issue to the United Nations Security Council - there is someone who raises the issue of the exceptional Israeli nuclear issue. Every time Iran suffers condemnation for its nuclear conduct, its spokesmen accuse the Western world of a double standard: How is it that the West, according to them, turns a blind eye and permits Israel to develop nuclear weaponry whereas Iran - a country that only wants to realize its legitimate right to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes - is not left alone?
Among the Arab states as well, including those that truly do oppose and are afraid of the Iranian atom, this double standard argument also comes up. Why is the West dealing only with the Iranian atom and ignoring the Israeli atom, ask the Egyptians. Softer versions of this line of thinking are also common in Europe, where many argue that only anti-nuclear norms that apply to the entire region, including Israel, will prevent a nuclearized Middle East.
Even in the United States there are those who argue that only if Israel is brought into the Iranian equation in some way is there a chance of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. And indeed, the United States has made possible the introduction of a connection in this spirit, though softer and diluted, into the IAEA decision of this weekend, which also included a mention of the commitment to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
The attempt to put Israel and Iran on the same level, or even to create a concrete political connection between them, is ignorant, unfair and biased. First of all, from the point of view of international law: whereas Iran is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and is committed to comply with it, Israel, like India and Pakistan, is not a signatory to the treaty and therefore is not beholden to a formal commitment. Whereas Iran has been caught in flagrant breach of its international commitments, Israel has not broken such commitments. In other words, like the seven other nuclear states in the world, and in stark contrast to Iran, Israel has never relinquished the right to develop nuclear weaponry.
However, beyond the formal plane there is a profound historical difference between Israel and Iran. Israel began its nuclear program in a world in which there were not yet explicit international norms against the possession of atomic weapons. When - according to foreign publications - Israel completed the first phase of the research and development of its nuclear activity around 1966, the NPT had not yet been completed. Had Israel decided at that time to realize its nuclear potential, and not to elect a policy of ambiguity, its nuclear status would be no different today from the status of the five other recognized nuclear states.
Beyond these differences there is also a profound difference between the two countries at the existential level. According to foreign reports, Israel began to develop its Samson option in the 1950s, while it was establishing a state for a people still in the shadow of conflagration, in a hostile geopolitical environment that was opposed to its very existence. It found itself committed to the creation of an insurance policy within the pre-1967 borders, without external guarantees for its existence. In the political climate of that time, a decade after the Holocaust, Israel had perhaps the strongest strategic and moral justification for turning to the nuclear option, certainly no less than France or China, which also began the atomic journey at that time.
Not only is Iran not under existential threat - its nuclear aspirations are an issue that puts it on a collision course with the world. Even the leaders of North Korea are not daring to declare their aspirations to wipe countries off the map, as the president of Iran has declared with respect to Israel.
From the Israeli perspective, it is essential not to leave the charge of double standard unanswered, but official Israel finds it difficult to answer the Iranian argument that it is permitted what Iran is forbidden. Official Israel finds it difficult to tell the world that its right to the atom is no less than that of France or India. The reason for this difficulty lies in the constraints of the policy of ambiguity that it has created of its own volition, a policy that traps it into not being able to clean up its nuclear position. Ambiguity is perceived in the world, with a certain amount of justice, as international deviation, as something sinful.
Israel's prime ministers have always refused to reopen the question of the exceptional nature of Israel's nuclear policy. The bureaucratic and diplomatic convenience of the ambiguity and the vast consensus behind its success have afforded Israeli prime ministers the luxury of not entering the atomic paradise. But the price of this exceptionalism is that the issue remains taboo, not arranged in an orderly manner, at home and abroad.
The need to deal with the Iranian nuclear capability strengthens the notion that the time has come for the state of Israel to find intelligent ways to clean up its nuclear status, at home and abroad.
Israel's nuclear policy was created as part of a chain of improvisations in the 1960s and the 1970s. But over the years the ambiguity has become a deviant anachronism, a kind of Israeli wink. Perhaps a fresh prime minister, who is open to innovative thinking, will be able to deal with the complex challenge of formulating a more transparent and democratic Israeli nuclear policy appropriate to the 21st century.
The writer, author of Israel and the Bomb and The Last Taboo, is a senior researcher at the University of Maryland.
The question of Israel having the bomb has been placed on the table by Egypt. This might be an extremely complicating factor in ongoing negotiations between E U and Iran over the matter of a nuclear Iran. The question of Irael being justified in having the bomb is not relevant here;but rather the appearance of a double standard perceived by many of the nations of the world, especially in those of the third world. Perception becomes reality in this situation.