Revolution #204, June 20, 2010
From A World to Win News Service
The U.S., Israel and the Bomb: Reason to Worry
May 31, 2010. A World to Win News Service. Israel's massacre of Palestinian supporters carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza is only a small demonstration of the crimes the Zionists are willing to commit. Israel has far worse up its sleeve, enough to alarm even the most sober-minded person, including nuclear weapons and a proven recklessness regarding their danger. Worse, other recent developments have highlighted the U.S. commitment to keep nuclear weapons in Israeli hands and the Barack Obama government's continuing support for Israeli atomic bomb-rattling against Iran.
Two political events touted as moves away from the threat of nuclear warfare may be just the opposite. One is Obama's unveiling of U.S. policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons as detailed in a new document called the Nuclear Posture Review. The other is the agreement signed by the 189 member countries of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to hold a conference in 2012 to discuss making the Middle East a nuclear-weapons free zone.
The Nuclear Posture Review released April 6 is scary. Some people were hoping that Obama would be the first American president to declare a "no first use" policy—that the U.S. would never use nuclear weapons unless it was attacked with them. The document clearly states the opposite: The U.S. "is not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that deterring a nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons." Instead, it says, "The United States will not use or threaten to use U.S. nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations."
Who is to determine whether or not an NPT country is "in compliance"? Not, as the naïve might expect, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN body in charge of enforcing the NPT, or even the UN Security Council, although these bodies have been far from impervious to U.S. pressure. By not mentioning them, experts agree, the document implies that the U.S. government reserves that right to itself. Even if it decides that a country is "in compliance" on nuclear weapons, it may still launch a nuclear first strike if "warranted by the evolution and development of the biological weapons threat" or in the face of anything else it considers potentially "devastating."
It is true that the Obama government seems to have dropped the Bush plan to develop new tactical atomic weapons (like nuclear "bunker-busters"). The claim that the U.S. and Russia are willing to eventually dramatically draw down their enormous nuclear power aimed at each other is also worthy of analysis, although the agreements reached so far are not impressive. But in immediate terms, the practical effect of this policy review is to remind the Islamic Republic that, as under President George W. Bush, for Obama "all options are on the table," including a nuclear first strike by the U.S.
The whole purpose of the NPT is to protect the monopoly on nukes by the U.S., Russia, UK, France and China. The treaty is supposed to be a "trade," in which other countries agree not to acquire nuclear weapons in return for the five nuclear powers agreeing to a legally binding timetable to destroy their own. But that has not happened and in today's world nuclear disarmament, as much as the world's people might wish it, is not on the table. India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs, but the U.S. has made no fuss about their refusal to sign the NPT. North Korea was an NPT member but withdrew, so it is a potential target for a first strike under the Obama doctrine. Iran is the only country that fits the second and new category the U.S. government has now created, an NPT member not "in compliance."
The irony is that of all these countries, Iran is the one that doesn't have any nuclear weapons. It may very well be that the Islamic Republic is seeking to develop them, which would change the power equation in a Middle East, where the U.S. gendarme, Israel, which refuses to sign the NPT, has at least several hundred nuclear warheads to make sure its American big brother has the last word in the region. The unspoken but blindingly clear message in Obama's policy review is that the U.S. will use whatever it has to in order to get whatever it wants in the areas of the world where its domination is contested.
Behind the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Meeting
The meeting by the NPT signatories in New York that ended May 28 should be seen in the same way as the Nuclear Posture Review, a policy adjustment by the U.S. that is not necessarily what it seems to be. These countries met every five years. In 1995, when Bill Clinton was the U.S. president, the conference ended in a stalemate when member countries led by Egypt failed to get through a pious hope that nuclear weapons would be banned throughout the Middle East. The 2005 meeting, under Bush, also ended in disarray. This time an agreement was reached by consensus, which means that the U.S. didn't veto it (nor did Iran, which unlike the U.S. had always publicly supported that goal). But there is good reason to believe that the U.S.'s purpose was to give political "cover" to American-dependent Arab regimes (Egypt—historically the biggest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel—being the prime example) for continuing to try to duck their people's hatred for Israel and facilitate U.S. moves against Iran.
For some time pro-Obama commentators have been arguing that it is hard for the U.S. to mobilize a united front against a country that may be seeking nuclear weapons while giving nuclear Israel a free pass. This call for a 2012 conference seems "balanced," as claimed by the NPT chairman, representing the U.S. client state the Philippines. It even mentions Israel as a possessor of nuclear weapons, which the U.S. has never before permitted in any international document. But, Obama said of this conference call, "We strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel's national security." Commenting on the agreement he helped negotiate, General James Jones, Obama's National Security Adviser, said that the disarming of Iranian weapons of mass destruction (note: not even just nukes) is a "precursor" to even talking about a conference to talk about regional nuclear disarmament. By the way, the U.S. is supposed to lead in organizing it, according to the call, which also says the conference can only be held if all the regional countries attend. The Israeli government has already announced it isn't going. As The New York Times wrote (echoing similar words by BBC), "even calling such a conference, much less accomplishing any of its goals, remained a distant prospect." (New York Times, May 28; BBC, May 29, 2010)
Israel's nukes and the U.S.'s nuclear backing for Israel are not just abstract issues on some distant horizon. According to the UK Sunday Times (May 30, 2010), Tel Aviv has deployed one nuclear cruise missile-equipped submarine off the Iranian coastline and has assigned two more. (The subs are a gift from Germany. This is the way imperialism works, just in case you thought monopoly capitalist countries could change their nature: Germany is making reparations for its genocide of the Jews by potentially enabling another holocaust.) Although the Times did not clearly indicate the source of this report, all three of these subs have been said to have visited the Gulf before, as have U.S. warships. Now Israel has taken the decision that at least one of them will be stationed off Iran permanently. "The deployment is designed to act as deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents," the newspaper wrote, based on what it said was an interview with the flotilla's commander. If this report is true, then not only is the information alarming, but also the very fact that the Israeli armed forces have decided to leak it is a deliberate provocation.
Mordechai Vanunu—Imprisoned by Israel Again
It was probably no coincidence that while the NPT conference was taking place, the Israeli authorities sentenced Mordechai Vanunu to three months in prison. He is the Israeli scientist who in 1986 gave the British press photos and documents proving that Israel had been manufacturing weapons-grade uranium for several decades. Israel's nuclear programme was never a secret from big-power governments—eight U.S. presidents from Nixon to Obama knew and helped Israel keep it officially secret, so that they could continue to play the Non-Proliferation charade. But proving it through documents able to stand up to expert scrutiny was something else.
Vanunu, a religious man, went to the press because he wanted peace in the region. Israel had him drugged, kidnapped and smuggled back to Israel for a secret trial. He spent 18 years in prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement so that he could not speak to anyone further. Since his release he has been repeatedly arrested for having contacts with foreigners—this time one of them is, he says, his Norwegian girlfriend. "Shame on you Israel for putting me in prison after 24 years of speaking the truth. Shame on you all the world media for not protecting freedom of speech," he said before his sentencing. (Associated Press, May 24)
It goes without saying that the U.S. (and UK, etc.) have never protested this outrageous injustice. Vanunu's truth, after all, is a threat to American Middle East strategy and interests.
Israel and South Africa Apartheid's Nuclear Partnership
Unfortunately for Israel, the kind of exposure its vendetta against Vanunu was designed to prevent reoccurred at this same sensitive moment. The American academic and Foreign Affairs senior editor Sasha Polakov-Suransky revealed documents recounting a 1975 secret military agreement between Israel and apartheid South Africa, including private correspondence, a copy of a signed agreement and the minutes of a meeting between the defense ministers of the two countries, Shimon Peres and P. W. Botha. Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear-armed missiles. The conversations made it clear that the Zionist and apartheid governments considered the alliance established between the two countries in 1973 ideological as well as military, in a crusade to protect "justice" for "whites" against the demand for "one man, one vote," considered such an unacceptable prospect that nuclear weapons should be used against neighboring African countries if needed to defend the apartheid system. Although the deal fell through, South Africa went on to develop its own nuclear weapons, probably with Israeli help. In 1979, satellite surveillance detected a nuclear flash in the Indian Ocean identified as coming from an Israeli nuclear bomb test, perhaps held jointly with South Africa. (The Nation, May 14, and Guardian, May 24, 2010. The memos and other documents are posted on the Guardian Web site, and The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.)
The U.S. never issued so much as a peep of protest about all this, in the past or now. Why? What is the Obama government still trying to protect? The U.S. eventually came to accept the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa as the best available option to serve American interests in that region, but it will not accept the dismantling of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinians because of the central strategic value of the Zionist state in the current regional and world situation. The Israeli-South Africa military alliance, like Vanunu's revelations, may be old news, but politically protecting Israel against the truth is still a main U.S. concern.
Washington may feel that it has to pay lip service to the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East in order to push against Iran, but there is no chance that Israel's nukes are going to be taken away, for the simple reason that they are, in effect if not literally, vital arms of U.S. foreign policy in a region that is increasingly explosive and even unpredictable, in no small degree due to the actions of the U.S. and Israel themselves.
These developments, from the history of Israeli nukes to their deployment off Iran, all under the U.S. political and military umbrella and in the service of American imperialist interests, are not so different, although on a different scale, from today's deliberately provocative murder of the "Freedom Flotilla" members, a display not only of Israeli arms but of the lack of moral restraint and cynical disregard for the opinion of humanity with which Israel uses them. They demonstrate a propensity for "flight forward" in the face of difficulty—in other words, to up the ante and escalate.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (aworldtowin.org), a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
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