By Jerry Mazza
We could say it was the best-known secret in the world that was finally officially revealed, i.e., that Israel has nuclear weapons, despite the US's "policy of ambiguity." Those of you who are really surprised raise your hand.
Nevertheless, a Defense Department study finished last year reveals for the first time in an unclassified report that Israel really is a nuclear power. Actually, it's on page 37 of the US Joint Forces Command report, where the Army claims Israel is within "a growing arc of nuclear powers that runs from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east." Is there anybody that doesn't have the bomb? Raise your hand. Sorry.
This reference is much more than the US usually states publicly about Israel, the poster nation of goodness and truth for so many Jewish folk about the globe. Yet the world knew Israel was heavily involved with nuclear weapons before whistleblower and former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, then an orthodox Jew, exposed the facts on its weapons program via a major story with pictures in the London Times.
Vanunu did 18 years in solitary for that. Upon his release in 2004, he spoke to a reporter and was put under house arrest. He is now a Christian, not to mention an incredibly brave man. Read Eileen Fleming's excellent article The Martyrdom of Mordechai Vanunu. The nuclear plant in question was at Dimona in a subterranean basement hidden from sight. The reactor by now is quite old and not particularly safe. But what the hell: in for two-to-four hundred missiles, in for Chernobyl.
Actually, a few years later no less than the New Yorker's star investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, published the book The Samson Option, which laid out Israel's strategy "of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened." He also mentioned the 200- to 400-missile figure.
Yet Israel has been mum about its nuclear capability, refusing to confirm or deny it. And the US waltzes right along with this dance on the nuclear edge.
Perhaps the real reason for the charade is that by law the US would have to stop providing billions of dollars in foreign aid to Israel every year if we actually said out loud that Israel had a nuclear weapons program, in fact an arsenal of 200 to 400 nuclear missiles. The reason for that is the Symington Amendment, legislation introduced by Stuart Symington, a former Democratic senator from Missouri, and authored to strengthen the US position on nuclear non-proliferation. It was passed in 1976 and bars assistance to any countries developing technology for nuclear weapons proliferation.
Given the US's deaf, dumb and blind, see-no, hear-no, say no evil policy when it comes to Israeli nukes, it's most likely that the 2008 Joint Operating Environment report put together by the Army will amount to not much more than a proofreader's wince. Although it should be a shot heard round the world fired as far back as the 1950s when France aided and abetted Israel in the building of the nuclear facility in return for Israeli scientists helping France assemble their own facility.
Thus, the facilitators will most likely carry the day, as usual, while Iran gets bonked daily for building a nuclear facility for power-generating reasons. And now North Korea is testing its own nuclear missiles without anything more than a rhetorical response from the US. Well, the one thing you can't accuse the US of is consistency.
One wonders where President Obama is in the middle of all this and if AIPAC and Rahm Emmanuel are still running Middle Eastern foreign policy.
In fact, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, whose editor recently proclaimed she was proud to be a Zionist, said in a March 8 article that "It is virtually unheard of for a senior military commander, while in office, to refer to Israel's nuclear status." Haaretz was referring to the fact that "In December 2006, during his confirmation hearings as secretary of defense, Robert Gates, referred to Israel as one of the powers seen by Iran as surrounding it with nuclear weapons." Doth Haaretz protest too much that Gates spoke?
His bad was right for once. But once in office, Gates dodged the bullet and refused to repeat the no-no allusion to Israeli nukes. He said that he had used it when he was a private citizen. Does that mean he doesn't tell the truth now that he's our secretary of defense? Well, play around with that conundrum for a minute or two. And you might want to look at my Online Journal article, Israel's 60 years of nuclear proliferation.