The Crescent Report

May 11, 2010

Why Is Israel “Strategically Ambiguous” About a Nuclear-Free Middle East?

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 3:04 pm

Why Is Israel “Strategically Ambiguous” About a Nuclear-Free Middle East?

by Ibrahim Ramey

As the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review moves in to its second week at the United Nations, there is-for some of us-much ado about nothing new.  There is the typical animus between the Iranian and U.S. delegations, the absence of North Korea from the conference (in light of the withdrawal of the DPRK from the NPT), and the nearly-universal concern about the urgent need for the nuclear weapons states to move in the direction of a convention leading to the abolition of these weapons of mass destruction.

There is also the movement, by some Middle Eastern states, to hoist a conference in 2011 that will discuss the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone, similar to those in South America, Africa, and Central Asia.

But guess who’s NOT coming to dinner to talk about the issue?  No, it isn’t Iran.  It’s Israel.

The authorities in Tel Aviv are still winning to keep playing the game of “strategic ambiguity”, that is, officially remaining silent on the issue of their own nuclear arsenal while the world, for sure, knows that there are 100-300 atomic warheads in the Dimona facility in the Negev Desert.

The United States, of course, knows this better than any other nation in the world, but the Obama Administration, like preceding administrations, gives Israel the green light to continue to maintain nuclear weapons outside the boundaries of the Non-Proliferation Treaty) while threatening Iran with the possibility of annihilation because the Iranians could be attempting to build their own atomic weapons-although there is no verifiable data to suggest that they actually possess such a bomb.

But when all the self-serving diplomatic double-speak (from all sides) has been said, the naked truth is this: a nuclear-free Middle East would be a huge step toward a safer world.  And the key U.S. ally in that volatile region won’t go for it.

Such an arrangement would mean, also, that Iran would be compelled to allow for the full inspection of its research facilities, with possible limitations on the ability to manufacture  acquire weapons-grade fissionable materials.  All the signatory nations with nuclear power capabilities would be required to submit to international inspections to ensure that they were not developing covert nuclear weapons programs.

But if international treaties apply to all the nations that sign them, such a nuclear weapons-free zone would also include the State of Israel.  And that is something that neither Washington nor Tel Aviv are ready to agree to.

By all estimations, arriving at a consensus for the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East will not be an easy task.  It will become virtually impossible to realize as long as the United States and its client state, Israel, both continue to obstruct this noble goal.

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