Israeli nukes are legal and pro-peace

George Jahn of the AP writes,

VIENNA — Israel’s secretive nuclear activities may undergo unprecedented scrutiny next month, with a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency tentatively set to focus on the topic for the first time, according to documents shared Friday with The Associated Press.

A copy of the restricted provisional agenda of the IAEA’s June 7 board meeting lists “Israeli nuclear capabilities” as the eighth item — the first time that that the agency’s decision-making body is being asked to deal with the issue in its 52 years of existence…

The 35-nation IAEA board is the agency’s decision making body and can refer proliferation concerns to the U.N. Security Council — as it did with Iran in 2006 after Tehran resumed uranium enrichment, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons…

The latest pressure is putting the Jewish state in an uncomfortable position. It wants the international community to take stern action to prevent Iran from getting atomic weapons but at the same time brushes off calls to come clean about its own nuclear capabilities.

This article obscures an important point, which is that the IAEA — and the UN — have no authority over Israel’s nuclear capability. And it gives the impression that Iran and Israel’s nuclear programs are both in some way in violation of international law, and that if action is taken regarding Iran it should also be taken toward Israel. This is entirely false.

The IAEA was created in 1957 as “the world’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ agency.” The idea was that the IAEA would supply fissionable material and know-how to countries that wanted to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes in return for strict controls over how these would be used. To that end it set up a system of inspections; if a country was found to be using IAEA-provided materials for military purposes, the information would be passed to the Security Council for action.

The IAEA’s authorized functions are listed in its founding Statute. They do not include interference in nuclear activities that are not related to material supplied by the IAEA, unless the parties involved have voluntarily agreed to involve the IAEA, as was done with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In 1970 the NPT came into being. It recognized that five nations already had nuclear weapons — the US, Soviet Union, UK, France, and China — and in effect granted them a monopoly. Signatories on the treaty agreed that they would not develop nuclear weapons themselves or contribute to the proliferation thereof and would accept IAEA supervision over their peaceful use of atomic energy.

Israel already had several weapons in 1970 and chose not to sign the NPT. So it is not in violation of it. And it is not subject to IAEA inspection.

Indeed, Israel’s nuclear weapons are exactly as legal under international law as those of the US.

Iran, on the other hand, did sign the NPT. It is required to permit IAEA inspections of its nuclear installations, and the IAEA has determined that Iran is probably developing weapons in violation of the treaty, but Iran insists that its project is entirely for peaceful purposes. Nobody honestly believes that.

North Korea, which has tested (it’s not clear how successfully) a weapon was a party to the NPT, but withdrew from it. Two other nuclear states — India and Pakistan — did not sign the treaty and so are not bound by it.

Israel has always suggested — but not stated explicitly, since it has never admitted to possessing nuclear weapons — that they would only be used defensively and only when there was no alternative. The closest it may have come to doing so was in the early stages of the 1973 war, when there was a possibility of enemy penetration into Israel beyond the pre-1967 borders. Some believe that Israel armed some weapons in the knowledge that the US and USSR would detect this, both as a deterrent to intervention by the USSR and a spur to the US to resupply Israel with conventional weapons.

In 1991, it’s said that weapons were put on alert in the event that Saddam would fire Scuds with chemical warheads at Israel (he did not). Syria also has a large quantity of chemical warheads which have not been used, probably from fear of nuclear retaliation.

The IDF has multiple delivery systems, which include submarine-launched cruise missiles and IRBM/ICBM’s in hardened land installations, giving it a second-strike capability. As I wrote yesterday, an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, no matter how ‘successful’, would trigger a response that would in essence eliminate Iran as a modern state. Israel’s missiles can also reach far beyond the Middle East, a fact which was highly relevant during the period that the USSR was supporting the Arab nations.

One might say that the form that the Mideast conflict has taken since 1973 — a low-intensity war involving non-state proxies and terrorism combined with stepped-up political and economic pressure — has been determined by the presence of Israel’s nuclear deterrent. Not good, but better than the alternative.

So it’s not surprising that Israel’s enemies have recently begun a diplomatic campaign for Israel to sign the NPT, to declare the Mideast a ‘nuclear-free zone’, etc.

Bad idea. Israel’s nuclear weapons are probably the most ‘pro-peace’ factor in the entire Mideast equation. Probably the best policy for Israel is to continue its policy of official ambiguity along with continued development of low-fallout nuclear weapons technology — i.e., neutron weapons, electromagnetic pulse weapons, etc.

Jericho III ICBM

Jericho III ICBM

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7 Responses to “Israeli nukes are legal and pro-peace”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This new move to deprive Israel of its independent deterrent capacity did not just happen out of nowhere. It marks yet another dramatic negative change introduced by the Obama Administration. I believe this was announced on the same day President Obama had Eli Wiesel for lunch and fed him a few ‘lokshim’. How ironic and disgraceful. The American Administration repeatedly declares its committment to the security of Israel while taking action after action to undermine it.

  2. levari says:

    agree with shalom; let’s not pretend this is anything other than an attempt to tie israel’s hands behind her back. but what i want to know is, what does the US stand to profit, precisely, from this? oil? empty promises to end narcotrafficking or terrorism? is our gov’t so obtuse as to actually believe they will get anything out of the arabs? or is it simple anti-semitism?

  3. Robman says:


    Our present administration subscribes to the view that America is the “problem”, and by extension, so are her closest “traditional” allies (e.g., Britain, Israel, etc.). Islamic terrorism, per this worldview, is essentially “blowback” for our imperialistic policies, and so in order to win the hearts and minds necessary to defuse Islamist hostility, we must abandon our erstwhile allies in order to prove our pro-Moslem “bona-fides”. In this way, so the theory goes, we will enable “moderate” Moslem regimes to convince their subjects to not support “extremists”, because we really do understand their concerns and don’t “always side with Israel” (their alleged main complaint; never mind the medieval conditions under which they live). Operationally, of course, to prove our “even-handedness” we have to pretty much NEVER side with israel.

    But that’s OK, because Israel is expendable. After all, we can’t let our foreign policy “dog” to be continually “wagged” by the “tail” of Israel. We can’t be put in the position of having to continue to spend blood and treasure defending a tiny state of seven million (never mind that they don’t ask us to), continually putting our nation at risk for infinite terror attacks over the same (just ask the Russian victims of Islamist Chechen attacks how much their ‘support’ of Israel keeps costing them).

    The purveyors of this garbage believe they are post-modern “sophisticates” who understand the world far better than ignorant peasants such as us, who still cling to old-fashioned, frumpy notions of “American exceptionalism”. In fact, this amounts to an amoral, highly rationalized form of cowardice. It plays right into the guns of the most backward, oppressive, and corrupt regimes in the world, as we align ourselves with the same against our natural ally, Israel.

    The anti-Semite “dump Israel” crowd has long complained about how our foreign policy is forever being distorted by our support of Israel. Now, we can all witness how effective our foreign policy is when it is dictated by Israel’s enemies.

    So, Levari, it would be easier to attack this if it were “simple” anti-Semitism (e.g., of the Pat Buchanan variety, who, by they way, supported Obama precisely because of his stand on Israel by his own admission). But it is a more complex kind of anti-Semitism, camouflaged by a phalanx of Jewish advisors (Axelrod, Emmanuel), spun out of focus by cheap publicity stunts like first-ever Passover seders in the White House. This is all explained as “realist” foreign policy, of the sort promoted by such scions of objectivity as Saudi whore John Mearsheimer, who recently referred to the likes of Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein as “righteous Jews”.

    One more note for Vic:

    You might re-check your facts. Pakistan DID sign the NPT. That’s how Mr. Kahn obtained the techology to build their nukes, mostly from fellow NPT signatory Netherlands, technology they never could have gotten except as allowed by the NPT. Maybe they withdrew later (I’m not sure on this one way or the other), but they cheated on the NPT big time, and that is why we suspended arms sales to them for a while after they tested their first bomb (I think this was 1998). Realpolitik (9-11) under Bush the Younger necessitated a change in policy, which took a lot of the teeth out of the NPT, but that was how the cookie crumbled.

    Iran is using the very same tactics Pakistan had to get their nukes. Allegedly, Mr. Kahn has played a role here as well.

    Israel should simply tell the IAEA to go screw, period. Either that, or agree to sign the NPT…as a declared nuclear power not subject to any requirement for nuclear disarmament, same as the U.S., Britain, France, China, or Russia. Any pressure to disarm from there, to create a “nuclear free zone” in the Middle East, should be met with a firm “hell no”.

    Anyway, everybody, no, the US will not benefit from this at all. That is not the point, unless one can conjure up “benefits” derived from kissing Sunni Arab booty. Obama excels at this. That is what he is there for. This is all about pursuing the Saudi agenda through their proxy in the form of Barack Hussein Obama.

    Gonna be a long two years, eight months (but who’s counting?).

  4. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Robman, various sources indicate that only three UN members never signed the NPT: India, Israel, and Pakistan. North Korea withdrew. The UN’s own website is full of broken links, but I found several independent sources that agree.

    However, I will research how Pakistan got its technology, something interesting in its own right.

    Hmm, why indeed shouldn’t they be a declared nuclear power, since they had operational weapons before the treaty was created?

  5. Robman says:


    You are right. I must have misread something the first time around regarding Pakistan and the NPT (though I am puzzled at why we suspended arms sales to them in the wake of their nuke test if they weren’t in violation of any treaties…).

    At any rate, check out the November 2005 Atlantic Monthly’s cover story, “The Wrath of Khan”, for a comprehensive review of how Pakistan got the bomb.

    As to your last question, the main historical obstacle to Israel becoming a declared nuclear power, I believe, is consideration of Arab pride. They don’t want to rub the Arabs’ noses in this, as then, the Arabs will be politically obligated to pursue nuke weapons on their own, even as they know that Israel’s nukes are a last resort defensive weapon in any case. You know, the Arab regimes’ chief priority is appeasing their clerics, who can’t stand for those infidel Jews showing them up in any way. Really. But by now, thanks to Obama, push is coming to shove, and they might have to ante up anyway, even as this objectively makes everybody less secure.

  6. Shalom Freedman says:

    It is possible that the Obama Administration colluded with Egypt to put Israel on the I.A.E.A agenda in order to be able to have a way of excusing its own failure to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. That is the ‘agenda’ of the Administration and the world changes. It is no longer ‘stopping Iran’ but rather in a ‘more- balanced way’ cleansing the Middle East totally of nuclear weapons. This ‘balance’ is of course an extension of the general ‘ balance’ between Israel and its enemies the U.S. is now displaying. Just as the U.S. is now claiming to be equidistant from Palestinians and Israelis so it will be equidistant from Israel and Iran.
    I hope what I am saying is worthless speculation. But it is based on simply ‘extending to this issue’ of what I understand to be , the mind- set of this present Administration in Washington.

  7. Robman says:

    Shalom, I’d say you are essentially correct. This is what an “even-handed” policy means. It is amoral, senseless, and cowardly. Kind of like an even-handed policy between North and South Korea, or maybe between Germany and Great Britain circa 1940 (which is what the anti-Semites of the America First movement demanded at that time, in fact).

    We need to replace this asinine “even-handed” paradigm with an “objective” policy that measures both sides by the same moral/political/cultural yardstick, and from there, we determine who deserves our support and who does not. You’d think the history of the past 70 years would have taught our leadership class this basic lesson, but the Vietnam era screwed this up. Again, imagine Ilan Pappe got elected PM in Israel, and you’ve got some idea of what we are contending with in Obama.

    We just need to get through the next two years nine months. This bankrupt policy is being exposed for the fraud it is all around to anyone here with any sense. Like I saw someone else post on another site, please excuse the current freak show…we will return to behaving something like a normal country in January of 2013.

    Can’t come too soon…maybe the bastard will get impeached before that…