Israel’s Netanyahu Blows Off Obama’s Nuclear Summit

The audience at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is said to have gone wild with applause when Liz Cheney announced the decision of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to attend next week’s nuclear summit, called by President Barack Obama.

A person gets a little tired of pointing to the hypocrisy of the American right wing, which would have been up in arms if Democrats had sided with a foreign head of state against the American president, and, indeed, would have charged treason. The thing to remember is that to right wingers, only Republican presidents are really presidents. Democratic Presidents are always coded as usurpers. The politically immature are like 5 year olds who pick up their marbles and go home when they aren’t winning.

Netanyahu’s staff said he decided not to come because reports had reached the prime minister that Arab states attending the summit would attempt to “embarrass” Israel over its defiance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its construction hundreds of nuclear warheads. Instead, deputy PM Dan Meridor will attend. Israel’s nuclear arsenal was a primary impetus to the Iraqi nuclear research program in the 1980s, which in turn alarmed Iran and sparked Tehran’s interest in acquiring at least the knowledge of how to enrich uranium. That is, Israel (and its enablers, France and Britain) kicked off the present nuclear crisis in the region, and Arab and Muslim states in attendance would be unlikely to allow Netanyahu to forget it.

Netanyahu’s government recently humiliated Vice President Joe Biden when he was on a state visit to that country recently by announcing the building of 1600 new household units on Palestinian West Bank territory that Israel had unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem. The announcement scuttled the talks with the Palestine Authority, the beginning of which Biden had come to celebrate. The Palestinians, have sensibly decided that they will refuse to negotiate with people who are actively stealing from them the very territory that is at stake in the negotiations. The Israeli slap in the face to Biden caused a subsequent Netanyahu visit to Washington to turn into a fiasco, with President Obama making forceful demands on the wily Netanyahu, and then leaving him on his own devices for dinner.

Thus, some observers believe that Netanyahu is playing hooky largely to avoid more pressure to take steps to restart peace negotiations. There are even rumors that Washington might put forward its own peace plan and then attempt to twist the arms of the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to it, and some observers suspect that Netanyahu was trying to avoid being cornered in that way.

But there is another possible explanation for Netanyahu staying away from a summit on nuclear security issues in Washington. It is that the Israeli prime minister is protesting a new White House policy of refusing visas to Israeli scientists, engineers and technicians who work at the Dimona Reactor/ nuclear bomb factory. Up until recently they had been free to attend technical and scientific conferences and pursue advanced classes at US universities. The visa denials were reported in the Israeli newspaper Maariv by Uri Binder on Wednesday April 7: “Nuclear Reactor Workers Not Wanted in United States.” It was translated by the USG Open Source Center. The article reports that Israeli workers at the Nuclear Research Center Negev (NRCN) in Dimona are complaining bitterly at the humiliation of being excluded from the US, saying the turn-downs are an “offense” against them “and their families.” (???) Moreover, the Dimona bomb plant is suddenly finding it difficult to import technical components and equipment from the United States. The restrictions, they say, are unprecedented. They also claim a double standard, alleging that the Obama administration is being “lenient” toward Iran.

In fact, Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is at the moment largely in compliance with it, has no nuclear arsenal, and does not even have a nuclear weapons program. (The treaty allows countries to enrich uranium for fuel, which is all that Iran is known to be doing). Yet the US has an extensive regime of economic sanctions on Iran, along with UN Security Council sanctions, both of which Obama is attempting to ratchet up. In contrast, Israel is actively constructing more and more nuclear warheads, which it is stockpiling, and which its leaders occasionally brandish at other Middle Eastern states. The Israeli arsenal, in turn, spurs a Middle East arms race.

Obama has just signed a new START treaty with Russia in Prague aiming to reduce the nuclear arsenals of each country by a third, to 1550. Obama appears to believe that by taking such a step, he can shore up the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, whereby signatories pledge not to develop nuclear weapons. He will have more moral authority to go to the UNSC and ask for more severe sanctions against Iran.

Obama’s attempt to reduce warhead stockpiles in the US (he will need the Senate’s ratification of the treaty) has been met with a campaign of ridicule and misinformation among Republican politicians and their television channel, Fox Cable “News.” As usual in these matter, Jon Stewart at the Daily Show presents the best take-down of completely false RNC talking points:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Big Bang Treaty
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

(Note that the usually perspicacious Jon Stewart gets one fact wrong– Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and is nowadays largely in conformity with it.)

In fact, nuclear warheads are extremely dangerous to all of us, and the fewer there are in the world, the better. How many do you really need for deterrence? Pakistan’s 14 little bombs are alleged to have deterred an Indian attack on that country in the summer of 2002. If only one of the 14 was dropped on Delhi, after all, the devastation would have been enormous. With the big nuclear powers, the size of the arsenal itself should be a form of deterrence. It is not impossible that an extensive nuclear exchange could blow away the ozone layer, which keeps us from being sunburned to death. It could throw up so much dust into the atmosphere that two years of night would ensue, which would kill all life on earth (i.e., the dreaded ‘nuclear winter.’) As Stewart noted, Ronald Reagan’s own negotiations with the Soviet Union aimed at reducing warheads by a third, in his own day.

Obama appears to have a nuclear strategy that deploys arsenal reduction among the great powers as a platform on which to pursue non-proliferation and perhaps even the roll-back of some existing nuclear stockpiles. As with Israel’s stubborn insistence on continuing to steal Palestinian land and to blockade the Gazans– which ensures continued violence– so its rogue nuclear operation is ultimately a threat to the international security of the United States.

The Israeli scientists at Dimona have it backwards. It is they who are providing a justification to Iran and giving it a motivation to close the fuel cycle and have at least nuclear latency or the ‘Japan option,’ as a way of countering Israel’s policy in the region.

End/ (Not Continued)

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4 Responses

  1. As a European, I fear Israeli nukes rather than those of any other country. A rogue state led by right wing extremists egged on my religious nutjobs.

  2. Correction, Sir: nuclear winter would not “end all life on earth”. as you say. It would merely end most higher life forms and kick the planet back into the Permian stage of evolution. IN another 10 million years, perhaps, the planet would be green and smiley again, minus a few billion killer apes too stupid and malicious to respect our living planet.

    Maybe we’ll wake up, but I fear it will be too late and we will have fouled our nest so badly that it will no longer support us. Tragic, really.

    I guess the dominionists will have a good time eating pie in the sky with G-D.

  3. Iran is largely compliant with the NPT, that is not the issue, rather it is their compliance with the Additional Protocol, which includes among other things remote monitoring and ‘surprise inspections’. BTW, the US has signed but not ratified the Additional Protocol. Israel is not a signatory to NPT and therefor is exempt from the inspection regime held by other member states – but it still is a member state of the International Atomic Energy Agency (which is responsible for monitoring compliance with the NPT). Nor has Israel declared itself a Nuclear Weapons State like Pakistan, France etc. etc.
    A bit more nuclear political history, in 2005, at the International Atomic Energy General Conference, Egypt put forward a motion for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, all countries except Israel voted in favour. Yes, Iran voted in favour.
    The hypocrisy of the international community regarding Israel is more than undeclared borders, illegal occupations, seiges and walls. Israel can sit on a stockpile of nuclear warheads, refuse to declare its ‘intent’ as a state and thereby excuse itself from inspections that all other states including NWS must adhere to. Iran, in the meantime, hasn’t attacked another nation in 300 years, has signed and ratified the Additional Protocol and therefore is subjected to even stricter inspection protocol than the US but Iran is being threatened with sanctions again. Something doesn’t add up.

  4. Iran is not “largely” in compliance with the NPT — it is in full compliance. However, the demands made on Iran are far beyond what the NPT requires of signatories. Also, remember that the US too is a signatory, and is required to 1- disarm its nuclear weapons, 2- share nuclear technology with countries such as Iran that are signatories, and 3- not share nuclear technology with countries such as India and Israel which are not signatories.

    The US has of course violated every obligation under the terms of the NPT/

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