Whenever any US official says that Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program is destabilizing the Middle East by posing a proliferation problem, I wince. A civilian enrichment program is not a proliferation issue, since only the construction of a nuclear warhead would violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NPT explicitly allows countries to close the fuel cycle for the production of reactor fuel. Iran is not known to be in violation of the NPT in this regard; i.e. there is no evidence that Tehran has a nuclear weapons program.
I have on several occasions pointed out that it is Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the only stock of nuclear warheads in the Middle East, that drives other countries to attempt to proliferate, since they are thratened by Israel’s stockpile.
Whenever I make this fairly obvious observation, I always get some propaganda comments from the Israel lobby folks, denying the assertion and asking for proof. It is a silly exercise– they are just trying to muddy the waters, as propagandists will do.
But since they ask, here is the smoking gun:
Late last January, Major General Mohammad al-Assar, Assistant to the Minister of Defense, met with a visiting US official (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dr. Colin Kahl) and
‘ He [al-Assar] reiterated the fact that Israel possesses unconventional weapons and sophisticated conventional weapons, which creates a regional imbalance and contributes to instability.’
Since Israel’s stockpile would create instability and impel others to bomb-making only if those others perceive Tel Aviv’s activities as aggressive, this cable is unquestionable proof that Israel’s nuclear stockpile inspires neighbors with fear and trepidation, and impels them to try to get a nuclear bomb themselves: You’re hearing the private counsels and concerns of a high Egyptian official, not public rhetoric.
President Obama’s plan for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East is useless unless the Israeli arsenal is dismantled.