When the United Nations passed a resolution in 1968 calling for a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Israel supported the measure. When the treaty was presented for signature and ratification two years later, however, Israel was not among the signatories. Forty-eight years later, it has still not signed on.
The Jewish state has similarly resisted joining in planning for a Middle East nuclear-free zone. First recommended by Egypt and Iran in 1974, the idea received support in connection with the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conferences in 1995 and 2010. Responding to a lack of progress, in 2013 an international meeting of citizens, including former members of the Israeli Knesset, met in Haifa and Ramallah without apparent results.
In 2015, the five-yearly N.P.T. Review Conference broke up over the latest proposal for a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone when the United States, together with Canada and the United Kingdom, blocked a consensus report for the conference. The allies’ reason was that Israel was not consulted on a renewed proposal to establish a Middle East nuclear-free zone.
But Israel was not then a member of the N.P.T. and so was not entitled to have a say in the matter; and it was, quite notoriously, in possession of undeclared nuclear weapons, an egregious spoiler to the N.P.T. regime, with between an estimated 100 and 400 nuclear warheads. The allies were playing a double game, insisting that the N.P.T. was the cornerstone of nuclear weapons policy and at the same time running interference for Israel’s duplicitous nuclear outlawry.
This history came to mind as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the 30th April 2018 presented his propaganda display of alleged Iranian nuclear weapons archives dating no later than 2003. Subsequently, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had no active weapons development program after 2003, a fact that had been acknowledged in a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate.
Netanyahu’s announcement was indeed a propaganda display intended to undermine the JCPOA, but it was a remarkably incompetent one that actually strengthened the case for keeping the nuclear deal as it is. Fred Kaplan explains:
However, the larger message of the archive—and Netanyahu’s briefing—is that the Iran nuclear deal, now more than ever, is worth preserving. Netanyahu pointed to documents suggesting that Iran had plans—he talked of secret documents, charts, presentations, and blueprints—for every aspect of designing, building, and testing nuclear weapons. What he neglected to point out is that the deal gives international inspectors highly intrusive powers to verify whether Iran is taking any steps to pursue those plans.
The Iranians signed the N.P.T. in 1970. Beginning in 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency found Iran in noncompliance with its N.P.T. commitments and for several years various countries attempted to negotiate an end to its programs, leading to the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action, which went into effect in 2016.
The arms control treaty between Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. security council and Germany imposes the most intrusive inspections and detailed restrictions ever applied to an N.P.T. member. The IAEA has verified Iranian compliance with the terms of the agreement ten times in a row, so it is very doubtful that the Israeli government has any relevant information about a “significant development” regarding the nuclear deal.
Investigative journalist Gareth Porter, in a May 14 article published by the American Conservative, reviews the public evidence that the claims that Iran has had a nuclear weapons program in the past is all based on fraudulent documentation crafted by the Mossad and laundered through the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK/MKO). This is clearly a response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s April 30 show-and-tell, in which he repeated over and over again that “Iran lied,” while presenting nothing new that proves that Iran is actually in violation of anything.
Porter writes that even supporters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran nuclear agreement is known, have fallen into the Israeli disinformation trap when they argue that the “evidence” Netanyahu presented is actually a reason for the U.S. to remain.
“But a far more effective counter would have been the truth—that the long-accepted accusation about Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program is the product of an elaborate disinformation operation based on documents forged by Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency,”
After reviewing the long history of Israeli disinformation against Iran, dating back to 2004, Porter concludes:
“The historical impact of the Israelis getting U.S. national security, political, and media elites to accept that these fabrications represented genuine evidence of Iran’s nuclear duplicity can hardly be understated. It has unquestionably been one of history’s most successful—and longest running—disinformation campaigns. But it worked without a hitch, because of the readiness of those elites to believe without question anything that was consistent with their perceived interests in continued enmity toward Iran.”
There is no little irony in Israel, a nuclear renegade, defaming a nation that even as it skated close to the edge was willing to negotiate controls and inspections of its own nuclear development program. It is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Mr. Netanyahu deserves no hearing on the Iranian agreement until Israel goes public about its own nuclear program and submits itself to the disarmament controls of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Israel regularly complains that the international community and U.N. agencies, in particular, apply double-standards with respect to Israel and its Arab neighbors. But with the United States running interference, Israel benefits from a double standard on non-proliferation. U.S. complicity in this double-dealing is a threat to the stability and continuation of the non-proliferation regime.
The United States insists that the N.P.T. is the cornerstone of international non-proliferation policy, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. If Israel is allowed to persist in its defiance of the N.P.T., the 50th-anniversary review in 2020 could well be the last. Already, in voting last year to support the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, the non-nuclear states registered their dissatisfaction with the prejudicial application the nuclear weapons states give the treaty, as they threaten non-nuclear states, like Ukraine and Iran, and enforce their compliance with the treaty even as the nuclear-armed states modernize their arsenals.
A U.S.-Israeli upending of the Iran nuclear deal threatens a death-blow to the N.P.T. as a pact between nuclear and non-nuclear states, placing the world under existential threat. It is time we recognize no nation—not Iran, not Israel, not the United States—has “a right” to world-destroying weapons systems.
Iran has not attacked another nation in over 500 years, although it was attacked with the blessing of the United States by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and has suffered economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe — tantamount to a declaration of war — since the Iranian revolution in 1979. Furthermore, even if Iran did have nuclear weapons, there is broad consensus that it would not translate to nuclear war. Officials and expert analysts constantly explain Iran’s leaders are rational, unlikely to provoke a conflict, and have no interest in suicide as a result of nuclear retaliation by the US.
As Warren Mass notes, the threat posed by Iran is at best negligible. “One wonders if the reason the big powers like to push Iran around so much is precisely because they have such a weak military,” he writes. “China is estimated to have about 250 nuclear warheads, yet there is no call to impose sanctions on that communist tyranny. Maybe because it also has a military of more than two million active and two million reserve personnel, almost 5,000 armored fighting vehicles, almost 3,000 aircraft, and more than 500 naval vessels.”
Finally, there is only one nation that has used nuclear weapons — the United States. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings targeted civilians and killed nearly 130,000 of them. More than two dozen nations have nuclear power with the U.S. and Russia possess 93 percent of them. The former Cold War foes keep nearly 2,000 nuclear weapons at the ready for immediate launch against each other, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Only nine possess actual nuclear weapons: Russia, the United States, China, India, Israel, France, North Korea, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. (source)
If not for a disgruntled nuclear technician, Mordechai Vanunu, we would probably not know about Israel’s nuclear program. It is estimated Israel has 200 or more nuclear weapons, but it is difficult to determine the actual number since Israel denies it has developed nuclear weapons.
The threat from Iran is manufactured.