Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Israel Can’t Hide From Next Month’s Nuke Meeting

Posted in Israel, Nuclear Proliferation by Dan on April 15, 2010

After two busy days of back-to-back-to-back meetings with some of the world’s most crucial players in the international system, President Barack Obama can finally take a brief moment to pause and regroup.  His Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C. – the biggest global gathering on American soil since World War II- was largely successful for the President’s nuclear agenda.  I’m not going to go over all of the agreements that were made on both a bilateral and multilateral basis (I would be in this room all night if that were the case), so here’s the official communique that was released at the end of the conference.  By the way, this wasn’t the only document that was released. For a full picture, check out this link at The Cable.

So congratulations to President Obama for a job-well done.  His staff tirelessly made arrangements for 47 world leaders to travel to the nation’s capital, a difficult task in and of itself.  The conference was successfully concluded without any major diplomatic incident (minus this hilarious exchange between the South African and UAE delegations.  And the two-days of talks actually produced a brief, yet worthwhile document, towards Obama’s goal of locking up all loose nuclear materials in four years.

There’s one problem though; Israel, America’s “special ally,” chose not to participate in the nuclear summit at a head-of-state capacity.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly canceled the trip a day or two before the summit began, and instead sent a mid-level diplomat (Dan Meridor) to take his place.

Was this another deliberate snub by the Israelis, in line with last month’s decision to announce more settlements in East Jerusalem as soon as VP Joe Biden landed in Tel Aviv?  Some may be inclined or tempted to think so, but this would be highly inaccurate.

The reason that Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu chose not to attend Obama’s conference is well-known; he didn’t want his country’s nuclear arsenal to be under assault from Arab countries, particularly Egypt and Turkey. And from a strategic standpoint, it makes sense. Israel is the only nuclear-weapons power in the Middle East (although they haven’t technically declared that they have nukes to begin with), and Arab nations have long used Israel’s nuclear capability as an excuse to start looking into nuclear research on their own.  Of course, America’s ambiguous policy doesn’t help either; Washington looks the other way on Israel’s nuclear program, but gets all hot-and-bothered when Iran or other Arab nation’s show an interest in nuclear technology.  But that’s a whole other story.

Israel may have managed to escape criticism earlier this week. But come next month, when the world once again comes together to look at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (to which Israel will certainly be an attendee), expect a barrage of complaints from Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the like. Questions like, “well if Israel is allowed to have nukes, then why can’t we?” will be asked. And if the United States doesn’t provide a good answer to this question, the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East may very well expand to uncontrollable levels.

The Israelis can expect Washington to do its bidding next May when the topic comes up. But at what cost to its credibility in the Persian Gulf?

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of the Economist**

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6 Responses

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  1. poor yummy said, on April 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Up till now,without the help from Russia, it seems not possible for Iran to make out nuclear arsenals. Notwithstanding what happened in the Iran nuclear programme before or even what will happen in the future, Israel does have such capability. How do you think what will happen if Israel drop such bomb into Iran? Then they will probably take a revenge to Israel only?

  2. Jehuda Ben-Israel said, on April 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Since Israel is mentioned in the article, it is important to keep in mind that Israel’s long term standing policy has been that it would never be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region. This was of course the view of the Israeli delegation to the 46 country Summit.

    And, this is as good an opportunity as any to illustrate once again that the “Middle East conflict” is one between tiny Israel, Biblical David if you will, vs. the Muslim-Arab world, or Biblical Goliath if you will.

    Yes, there is a local component to the conflict, dubbed “Israeli Palestinian conflict”, but this component has always, always been of trivial dimension and nature by comparison to the conflict between Israel and the Muslim-Arab world.

    In 1948 a large coalition of Muslim-
    Arab states set out to annihilate Israel by initiating a war of extermination the day after Israel, legally, came into being.

    In 1967 a coalition of Muslim-Arab countries set out to wipe Israel off the face of earth, attempting to accomplish that which they had not been able to do 19 years eartlier.

    In 1973 a coalition of Muslim-Arab states initiated yet another all out war against the nation-state of the Jewish people, eager to restore their “honor”, having been defeated in the two previous all out wars, and were defeater in 1973 again.

    Now, a coalition of Iran-Hizballah-IslamicJihad-Hamas-Syria is gearing up and preparing itself for yet another venture to erase Israel and with it every trace of Jewish life and civilization from the Land that is the cradle of this people and its civilization for nearly 4,000 years; this time through the possible use of nuclear weapons, strategic and/or tactical.

    The misery brought upon the local Muslim-Arab community has been the direct work of its regional leadership, including the League of Arab States that has been behind all the wars against Israel.

    Thus, let us keep things in perspective next time we think about and discuss the Arab Israeli conflict, shall we?

  3. EarlGeorge7 said, on April 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    This conference a joke…Obama brings people to U.S. to gain support to stop Iran from destroying Israel with nukes…since Hussein Obama to weak to stop them.

    China leaves and blows off Obama on Iran…one report is that China selling gasoline to Iran to ease European efforts to stop Iran…

    Obama just an empty suit…a joke really.

  4. whopayswins said, on April 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    This summit “will not prevent Iran from nuking Israel (as it clearly and honestly stated it would) once they have got their act together, neither would it stop Israel from carrying out a pre-emptive strike prior to an Iranian launch, nor will it restrain India from striking Pakistan if Islamic militants take control of its nuclear arsenal” and it may not even curtail the surreptitious spreading of miniaturized nuclear bombs into the hands of those who are prone to detonate them in wrathful retribution.

  5. robjl said, on April 15, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    De Petris is correct in demanding equal treatment for all nuclear powers, including Israel. Obama should have insisted that not attending the Washington gathering was not an option.
    If we are to achieve peace with terrorists then all states should be treated equally and according to universal conditions of justice and human rights.
    We should also listen to General Petraeus who connected terrorist activities and peace (or the lack of) negotiations between Israel and Palestine. One could make the link between Israel’s nuclear capability and terrorists’ seeking nuclear materials.
    Why does the Western alliance refuse to see these obvious links?
    Where is the gain from such a staunch support for Israel?

  6. Nadeem said, on April 15, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    The US has failed to get Israel on the table over its Nuclear program and most doubt if they are actually trying. Also, it is difficult to understand what logic Israel uses when demanding sanctions on Iran while it continues to secretly run its program.


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