Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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Israeli Nuclear Weapons

Steven Katsineris flags up Israel's "nuclear ambiguity." Steven Katsineris is an Australian freelance writer. He has been actively involved in the Palestine solidarity movement for over forty years.

After decades of disagreement and economic sanctions world powers and Iran have reached an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. After a 13-year stand-off, the deal was reached between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Speaking about this agreement, PM Tony Abbott has expressed his hope the international nuclear deal with Iran will de-escalate tensions in “the most unstable and dangerous part of the world” and lead to the Middle East becoming “nuclear-free’’.

The Prime Minister said:

We certainly want a nuclear-free Middle East. The Middle East is the most unstable and dangerous part of the world, if any country in the Middle East were to get nuclear weapons that would be a horrifying escalation of tension.

Despite his seeming opposition interestingly, Tony Abbott deceptively neglects to mention or criticise the only country in the Middle East that actually has nuclear weapons, Israel. Although it has never confirmed its nuclear military capacity it is a well known fact that Israel possesses these weapons. 

Israel maintains a policy known as “nuclear ambiguity.” Israel has never officially admitted to having nuclear weapons, instead repeating over the years that it would not be the first country to "introduce" nuclear weapons to the Middle East. The "not be the first" formulation goes back to an understanding between Israel and the United States on March 10, 1965, which contained Israel's written assurance for the first time that it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Israel has refused to sign the NPT despite international pressure to do so, and has stated that signing the NPT would be contrary to its national security interests. 

Estimates as to the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal vary between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that Israel has approximately 80 intact nuclear weapons, of which 50 are for delivery by medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft.

In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician, provided explicit details and photographs to the Sunday Times of a nuclear weapons program in which he had been employed for nine years. Vanunu was later jailed by Israel for18 years, including more than 11 years in solitary confinement for these disclosures. 

Israel and numerous Arab states agreed in 2008, to “pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction”. Yet this did nothing to change the situation regarding Israel’s nuclear stockpile.

Iran has constantly said it was not developing nuclear weapons. Yet world powers imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Now that the West is content with measures to curb any potential for Iran to build a nuclear weapon, it is well beyond time the international community got serious with Israel, to expose its concealed nuclear warfare system and bring pressure to allow international inspectors to examine and rein in its nuclear weapons program. 

There will always be the potential for a nuclear arms race is the Middle East, because if Israel has nuclear weapons there will be other countries in the region that will want them. So if Tony Abbott is really concerned about stability and peace in the Middle East, he and the rest of the international community should confront Israel over its rogue possession of nuclear weapons and stop the hypocrisy on this issue.

28 comments :

Barry Gilheany said...

Perhaps the memory of the Shoah/Holocaust and the refusal of the Arab world at large to recognize the State of Israel were factors in Israel's secret nuclear weapons programme not that I agree with nuclear proliferation anywhere.

Wolfsbane said...

Given the reality of the threat to Israel's existence, they would be very stupid not to have developed nuclear weapons. Same goes for any country under such threat.

AM said...

Wolfsbane a thought: would that mean the Palestinians should have them also?

David Higgins said...

Wolfsbane,
The argument that Israel needs nuclear weapons is ridiculous. Anybody attacks Israel by extension attacks America which isn't realistic. Does your reasoning extend to Iran?, Syria? Who are under real threat daily.

Wolfsbane said...

AM said:
'Wolfsbane a thought: would that mean the Palestinians should have them also?'

Yes, if they were under threat of extermination like Israel is. Since they are not, no need for extraordinary measures.

Wolfsbane said...

David said:
'The argument that Israel needs nuclear weapons is ridiculous. Anybody attacks Israel by extension attacks America which isn't realistic. Does your reasoning extend to Iran?, Syria? Who are under real threat daily.'

1. Would America intervene in such force as would be needed to stop Israel being overthrown by a concerted Arab/Iranian attack? I can't see it. They would almost certainly need to use tactical nukes to do it, and I can't see them taking that dramatic step. Most likely they would send a fleet, send a protest, even make a token conventional strike or two - but the fait would be accompli and nothing would alter it.

2. If Iran or any other country was under threat of extermination, I would support their right to nuclear weapons also. I'm not aware of any, except Israel.

The Syrian regime is under threat, but not the nation. The nation is suffering because it is divided against itself and has many neighbours and the West interfering.

AM said...

Wolfsbane,

but the people being subject to extermination are Palestinians: think back to the myriad of war crimes inflicted in Gaza last summer by Israel. That, particularly the massacres of children, conjured up images in my mind of Babi Yar. Better that war criminals do not have nuclear devices. Better that the Middle East in particular and the world in general be nuclear free.

David Higgins said...

Wolfsbane,
What you said is illogical. Actions speak louder than words. People have made empty threats against Israel while Israel has been busy invading everyone of their neighbours. How you can look at the middle east and see Israel as the victims perplexes me. Any government in the world who attacked Israel, bar America, would suffer unspeakable ramifications. Do yourself a favour look at a map of Palestine pre 48 and now and tell me who is being exterminated.
As for Syria large parts of their country is under foreign control therefore their country is under threat. To answer your question America has said many times it would use any measure possible to protect Israel. You don't believe them but believe, at worst, the populist rants of an Iranian leader.

Wolfsbane said...

AM said:
'Wolfsbane, but the people being subject to extermination are Palestinians: think back to the myriad of war crimes inflicted in Gaza last summer by Israel. That, particularly the massacres of children, conjured up images in my mind of Babi Yar.'

War brings such horrors - even in Ulster. But it is not extermination. Not the wiping out of a nation. The Arabs control most of the Middle East, and even in defeat they are not threaten with extinction. The Arabs in Palestine suffer a lot - but no threat of extermination. A peaceful solution accommodating both sides is possible.

'Better that war criminals do not have nuclear devices. Better that the Middle East in particular and the world in general be nuclear free.'

The genie is out of the bottle.

Wolfsbane said...

David said:
'Wolfsbane,
What you said is illogical. Actions speak louder than words. People have made empty threats against Israel while Israel has been busy invading everyone of their neighbours.'

Empty threats? Only because Israel defeated their efforts. It was a close run thing in '73.

'How you can look at the middle east and see Israel as the victims perplexes me.'

Both sides are victims, and aggressors. But only Israel faces extermination if it is defeated.

' Any government in the world who attacked Israel, bar America, would suffer unspeakable ramifications.'

You have to much confidence in Uncle Sam's devotion to other's. If it suited, they would let Israel burn as much as any other nation.

' Do yourself a favour look at a map of Palestine pre 48 and now and tell me who is being exterminated.'

I don't see any nation being exterminated. I see the Palestinians being deprived of a lot of their land - but temporarily and due to their aggression against the 1948 State of Israel. War has its consequences. Peace can greatly improve things.

'As for Syria large parts of their country is under foreign control therefore their country is under threat.'

It is a Syrian civil war - engaging outsiders. The Syrian nation will not be exterminated - unless the Turks take the head-staggers.

'To answer your question America has said many times it would use any measure possible to protect Israel.'

I believe they will do what suits, not what is right.

' You don't believe them but believe, at worst, the populist rants of an Iranian leader.'

The rants of the Iranian leader are not just populist - they came from ideological guts. History should teach us not to view lightly the threats of such people. Mein Kampf was crazy stuff - but he meant every word!

AM said...

Wolfsbane,

the Israeli intelligence services don't appear to give too much credence to the extermination angle. I think it is more of an existential myth than an existential threat. If we evaluate in accordance with the rule of thumb of judging what people do not what they say, the people being exterminated are the Palestinians. There may be an eliminationist culture embedded within Israeli society similar to that ascribed to the Germans by Daniel Goldhagen in his work Germany's Willing Executioners. I think the difference in our respective position is that you believe war criminals should have nuclear weapons and I am of the view that they should not.

David Higgins said...

Wolfsbane,
Palestinians being deprived of their land temporarily? You at the wind up? When they goin to give it back? The settlers all going to go quietly once Israel is recognised? Clear this up for me. Zionists, Balfour, Churchill etc decide to create a state namely Israel, bit simplistic but bear with me, the consequences then lead to the agitation for an Israeli state, which leads to mayhem which leads eventually to the creation of a war determined, elitist, exclusionist, tyrannical state. There is resistance to this state and you see the Arab resisters as the aggressors?
What is it with Christians and their support for Israel. It can't all be to do with the story book surely?

AM said...

David,

I don't know why Wolfsbane believes what he does, if it is biblical based or whatever. But away from this discussion altogether, these storybooks have been very influential in having people believe absolute rubbish. Only look at those who believe the world is 6000 years old and that evolution is a myth.

Wolfsbane said...

AM said:
'Wolfsbane,
the Israeli intelligence services don't appear to give too much credence to the extermination angle. I think it is more of an existential myth than an existential threat. If we evaluate in accordance with the rule of thumb of judging what people do not what they say, the people being exterminated are the Palestinians. There may be an eliminationist culture embedded within Israeli society similar to that ascribed to the Germans by Daniel Goldhagen in his work Germany's Willing Executioners. I think the difference in our respective position is that you believe war criminals should have nuclear weapons and I am of the view that they should not.'

Israel has no intentions of eliminating the Arabs or even the Palestinian part of them. The reasonable Zionists just want a part of their historic land for their own. If they have that and are not attacked, no more blood will flow on either side. Extremists in Israel want it all - but even they are not looking to eliminate the Arabs or Palestinians.

The Arab 'moderates' want the elimination of the Jewish State, and the extremists want the elimination of the Jews. You might want to think of the extremists as insignificant weirdos or bluffers that pose no real threat. Hitler proved the folly of that. And the dynamic of the extremists is even greater than that of the moderates - so they are not insignificant players.

Whoever is under threat of extermination - it is they who need nuclear back-up.

AM said...

Wolfsbane,

the lesson we should be drawing from Hitler is that war criminals should be denied nuclear devices. You seem to draw the opposite conclusion.

Wolfsbane said...

David Higgins said:
'Wolfsbane,
Palestinians being deprived of their land temporarily? You at the wind up? When they goin to give it back? The settlers all going to go quietly once Israel is recognised?'

Yes, just as in Gaza. Had the war not continued against Israel, Gaza would not only have been cleared of settlers, it would have been fully free. Israel can live with having a portion of their ancient home.

'Clear this up for me. Zionists, Balfour, Churchill etc decide to create a state namely Israel, bit simplistic but bear with me, the consequences then lead to the agitation for an Israeli state, which leads to mayhem which leads eventually to the creation of a war determined, elitist, exclusionist, tyrannical state. There is resistance to this state and you see the Arab resisters as the aggressors?'

Before there was a Jewish State the Arabs were murdering the Jewish settlers. You might like to call that 'mayhem', but they were classical anti-Semitic pogroms. When the British finally pulled out and the Jewish State began, an immediate war was proclaimed against them.

When the State exercised its power and the Palestinian Arabs became a minority in Israel, no doubt they felt aggrieved. Two nations/one land always has its difficulties. The solution must be a Two State one - an accommodation of the rights of both nations by dividing the land. In an ideal world a One State could accomplish that - but history tells us the Jewish nation needs to be in charge of its own security.

Do you say the Jewish nation should not be allowed to have their own state?

'What is it with Christians and their support for Israel. It can't all be to do with the story book surely?'

It is primarily that - but I also support the principle of a nation having its own state. The Kurds, for example.

Yes, the Scripture tells us to be kind to the Jews in their affliction. For us at this time, that means supporting their need for a state of their own, in view of their past experiences when they depended on the other nations for their defence.

Wolfsbane said...

AM said:
'Wolfsbane,
the lesson we should be drawing from Hitler is that war criminals should be denied nuclear devices. You seem to draw the opposite conclusion.'

Not at all. I'm saying two things:it is too late to un-invent the Bomb; and Israel is not trying to exterminate any nation, but are under threat of extermination. That's why they should have the Bomb. If Iran was not trying to exterminate another nation, and was under threat of extermination, she too should have the Bomb. But Iran has the reverse criteria.

AM said...

Wolfsbane,

I and many others do not believe there is an exterminations threat against Israel. Among those are Israelis and some of their intelligence community. I think a strong argument can be made that there is an eliminationist culture within Israel that poses a serious threat to Palestinians. Rabbi Michael Lerner alluded to it in some way in his piece on this blog today. But we cannot agree on this so we are left with one conclusion. You think war criminals should have the nuclear device and I do not. It cannot be expressed any more starkly or simply.

Wolfsbane said...

AM said:
'I and many others do not believe there is an exterminations threat against Israel. Among those are Israelis and some of their intelligence community.'

There were very many Jews who said the same about the Nazis. That is was all just vile bluff.

'I think a strong argument can be made that there is an eliminationist culture within Israel that poses a serious threat to Palestinians. Rabbi Michael Lerner alluded to it in some way in his piece on this blog today. But we cannot agree on this so we are left with one conclusion. You think war criminals should have the nuclear device and I do not. It cannot be expressed any more starkly or simply.'

With the same criteria for war crimes, all the current possessors of the Bomb are war criminals. I don't hear any demand to deprive America, Russia, China, Britain, France, Pakistan or N.Korea of their nukes. We are where we are with nukes. Israel is just one of the boys. Iran may soon join the club.

AM said...

Wolfsbane,

I don't hear any demand to deprive America, Russia, China, Britain, France, Pakistan or N.Korea of their nukes

You hear it every time people call for a nuclear free world. Given what the US did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki who would want them having nuclear bombs?

Again, what divides us is you think war criminals should have nuclear bombs and I do not.

Wolfsbane said...

AM said:
'Wolfsbane,
[I don't hear any demand to deprive America, Russia, China, Britain, France, Pakistan or N.Korea of their nukes]
'You hear it every time people call for a nuclear free world. Given what the US did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki who would want them having nuclear bombs?'

I meant from the people concentrating on Israel. They don't seem to take much interest in those other countries.

'Again, what divides us is you think war criminals should have nuclear bombs and I do not.'

What's wrong with the Bomb? It's only an insurance policy against a cheap defeat. Without it the bully is met by other big guys who don't want him to get too big - or they let him have some of the little guys on the understanding he won't bother them.

Today the Bomb is a bit of an equaliser. A equaliser of last resort.

AM said...

Wolfsbane,

what's wrong with the bomb?

If there is nothing wrong with it give it to the Iranians.

I don't want the Iranians having it. I don't want the Israelis having it.

I guess the people opposed to Israel having the bomb are also opposed to the US and elsewhere having it. But I have not done the math. I think they are worried about Israel because of its massacre mentality.

Wolfsbane said...

AM - as I said, if any nation is under threat of extermination, I'm all in favour of them having the Bomb rather than relying on others to protect them.

Yes, I hope they are concerned with Israel: they have learned from history: 'Never Again'.

David Higgins said...

Wolfsbane,
You seem to have zealous opinion on this subject. You defend Israel with the same iron clad beliefs you usually reserve for the scriptures. So debate is pointless. I think you really need to catch yourself on. You are completely ignoring current events and focusing on what might happen. Its that kind of thinking that allows modern day tyrants to continue unchallenged, while you are busy looking for the next Hitler.

Wolfsbane said...

David said:
'Wolfsbane,
You seem to have zealous opinion on this subject. You defend Israel with the same iron clad beliefs you usually reserve for the scriptures. So debate is pointless. I think you really need to catch yourself on. You are completely ignoring current events and focusing on what might happen. Its that kind of thinking that allows modern day tyrants to continue unchallenged, while you are busy looking for the next Hitler.'

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I think Israel is unblemished or has no part of the blame for today's situation. It certainly does. It should have taken greater pains to accommodate those Palestinians that could be accommodated. It should spell out some possible future agreements. And it has done its share of terrorism.

But all said, Israel has the need - and so the right - to have its own homeland. That is the bottom-line that is unacceptable to the Islamists. No solution is acceptable to them that leaves any part of the Middle East not controlled by Muslims.

The rights of the Palestinian Arabs to their part of Palestine/Israel is the second bottom-line. It is unacceptable to a lot of Jewish extremists. But for the non-extremist Jew and Muslim inhabitants, an accommodation is possible.

The fear of another Hitler is not paranoia. Islamic leaders already express as much venom against the Jews as did Hitler - and they have large armies like he had. Israel cannot lose any war and survive. Not an all-out invasion, nor a war of attrition. Hence the harsh counter-measures.

But if you think I'm mistaken, perhaps you will suggest one or more possible scenarios where the security of the Jewish nation is protected, and the rights of the Arab Palestinians also.

I'll be glad to hear. Thanks.

David Higgins said...

Wolfsbane,
If you are saying that nuclear bombs bring security, then I disagree massively. You were very courteous in your response so I do want to come off ranting or even rude. Here is what it all boils down to for me. If Palestinians were carpet bombing Tel Aviv I would be pro Israeli and anti Palestinian. Obviously that isn't the case for you. You elevate one side over the other and no amount of rhetoric or hypothetical thinking can change the fact that for you the survival of Israelis is so much more important than the survival of Palestinians. I find that shameful.

Wolfsbane said...

David Higgins said:
'Wolfsbane,
If you are saying that nuclear bombs bring security, then I disagree massively.'

It has kept us from WWIII since 1945.

'You were very courteous in your response so I do want to come off ranting or even rude. Here is what it all boils down to for me. If Palestinians were carpet bombing Tel Aviv I would be pro Israeli and anti Palestinian. Obviously that isn't the case for you. You elevate one side over the other and no amount of rhetoric or hypothetical thinking can change the fact that for you the survival of Israelis is so much more important than the survival of Palestinians. I find that shameful.'

No, the survival of the Palestinians is as right as the survival of Israel. Each deserve their own nation state. But since that is not acceptable to many Palestinians, war takes its course. The sooner a two state solution is agreed, the better. Both sides have blame for not moving toward that. Terror is the alternative currently being deployed.

David Higgins said...

Wolfsbane,
Nuclear bombs tooks us within hours of oblivion. How can there be a two state settlement when settlers have swallowed up so much of Palestine? In fact I have said enough on this and we are still miles apart. Such is life slan