Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Middle East Nuclear War Threat

A United Nations conference aimed at stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons has ended without agreement after proposals were blocked to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. The plan for a nuclear-free Middle East was blocked by USA, the UK and Canada. The proposed Middle East conference would have required Israel to reveal its nuclear weapons arsenal.

Expecting a country to admit possessing nuclear weapons were “unrealistic and unworkable conditions," according to America’s representative Rose Gottemoeller. The Obama administration was reiterating a longstanding secret understanding on Israel's nuclear arsenal, dating back to 1969. That year during a meeting between President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Golda Meir, Israel committed to not testing a nuclear weapon and the United States committed to protect Israel from efforts to force it to sign the nonproliferation treaty or give up nuclear weapons.

 Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for blocking an Egyptian-led drive on a possible Middle East nuclear arms ban at a United Nations conference, an Israeli official said on Saturday. "The United States kept its commitment to Israel by preventing a Middle East resolution that would single out Israel and ignore its security interests and the threats posed to it by an increasingly turbulent Middle East," the official added.

How can Israel avoid being singled out since it is the one and only Middle Eastern nation to have nuclear weapons even if Israel does allege Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons programme is the real regional threat and which it is in the midst of negotiations to ensure it does not develop one. Iran has been forced by stringent economic sanctions to agree to far-reaching restrictions on its nuclear program, including unprecedented international supervision and monitoring of its nuclear facilities. Apparently, in the eyes of the British, Canadian and American diplomatic corps, what is good for the gander is not good enough for the goose. If Israel has been singled out, it has been for exemption from obligations.

 Mordechai Vanunu is still prevented from leaving his country and subjected to extraordinary restrictions for blowing the whistle on Israel’s nuclear weapons in 1986. Vanunu was jailed for 18 years, including 11 years in solitary confinement, for revealing the secrets of Dimona’s nuclear plant. His movements are monitored. He is permitted only chance conversations with foreigners, as long as it is a one-time conversation, which takes place face to face and is not planned in advance, is held in a public place open to the general public, and takes place for a period no longer than 30 minutes.

The US knew about Israel’s secret nuclear programme in 1960, twenty six years before Vanunu’s disclosures. In 1959, there was a secret deal between Israel and Norway providing for the sale of Norwegian heavy water to Israel, through Britain. During the 1973 War Golda Meir overruled Moshe Dayan when he urged dropping a nuclear bomb in the desert as a warning to the Arab enemy states.

A total of 162 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) participant states were in attendance but it takes only the objection of one nation to scupper the policy of agreement by consensus.

The failure of this conference means the next one can only be held in 2020. That has disappointed countries without nuclear weapons, who are increasingly frustrated by what they see as the slow pace of nuclear-armed countries to disarm. Despite lofty high-sounding rhetoric, all the nuclear armed states are pursuing billions of dollars’ worth of nuclear arsenal modernisation.

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