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Calling for a Nuke-Free Israel

Today, the Israeli media is quoting a new paper put out by the Institute for Science and National Security in Washington . Of particular interest is this controversial recommendation:

The Obama administration should make a key priority of persuading Israel to join the negotiations of a universal, verified treaty that bans the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear explosives, commonly called the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). As an interim step, the United States should press Israel to suspend any production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Toward this goal, the United States should change its relatively new policy of seeking a cutoff treaty that does not include verification.

I expect such recommendations will become more frequent in the coming months, and so do some Israeli officials familiar with such matters. There are two reasons for this: 1. Some members of the Obama camp will be receptive to these ideas. 2. The international community has found no way of stopping Iran, and is now looking for new solutions to the problem of a nuclearized Middle East.

In fact, the authors of this new paper do understand that the problem starts with Iran:

Because of growing insecurity in the Middle East resulting from Iran’s nuclear progress in defiance of United Nations Security Council demands, other countries will likely start to consider their own options, perhaps including the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

So, do they go to the source and take care of Iran (thus, maybe avoiding the resulting nuclear race)? No. They have no solution for Iran. David Albright, the principal author of this paper, does not believe in the military option, and also doesn’t have any other brilliant ideas – aside from “robust diplomacy.”

Albright, an expert on nuclear issues no doubt, isn’t the only one who can’t find a way out of the Iran crisis. And he will not be the only one to seek the solution for Iran in Dimona. After all, pressuring Israel will presumably be much easier for the U.S. than pressuring Iran.

But here’s the problem: Where Albright and Andrea Scheel see a plan that “would establish international confidence in the peaceful nature of Middle Eastern nuclear programs,” Israel will see a plan concocted by people who failed to deal with a neighborhood bully and turned their attention to other places, so as to avoid a necessary confrontation. This is not establishing “confidence in the peaceful nature…” – but rather establishing disbelief in the ability of the international community to deal with aggressors. In fact, applying the pressure that the authors seem to want will achieve the exact opposite of their intended outcome: It will make Israel even more suspicious, and much less prone to give up whatever capabilities it might have to defend itself. And rightly so.


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