Obama ducks question on Israel's nuclear capability but expresses
concern over Iran's nuclear program
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
ccun.org, February 12, 2009
President Barrack Obama's first press conference was
dominated by economy issue that was the main objective of the event. Out
of 13 questions, 8 were related to economy, while three dealt with
foreign policy: Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan's FATA region. The
President's responses to the issues of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan's
FATA region were very vivid and clear. However, when it came to Israel,
though the question was indirect and implicit, his response was
ambiguous and dubious.
The White House veteran journalist, Helen
Thomas, asked: "Do you know of any country in the Middle East that has
Although former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon
Peres said in July 1998 that Israel "built a nuclear option, not in
order to have a Hiroshima but an Oslo," President Obama declined to
answer the question by saying:
"With respect to nuclear
weapons, you know, I don't want to speculate. What I know is this: that
if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle
East, everybody will be in danger."
He went on to say: "And one
of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that
it's important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead
the way on this. And you know, I've mentioned this in conversations with
the Russian president, Mr. Medvedev, to let him know that it is
important for us to restart the conversation, about how we can start
reducing our nuclear arsenals in an effective way, so that."
is an open secret now that Israel is the world's sixth most powerful
nuclear state, with a stockpile of more than 100 nuclear weapons and
with the components and ability to build atomic, neutron and hydrogen
bombs. (The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control's Risk Report of
The first public revelation of Israel's nuclear
capability (as opposed to development program) came in the London based
Sunday Times on 5 October 1986, which printed information provided by
Mordechai Vanunu, formerly employed at the Negev Nuclear Research
Center, a facility located in the Negev desert south of Dimona. After
being abducted from Italy, Vanunu was tried in Israel and sentenced to
18 years in prison for treason and espionage. Although there had been
much speculation prior to Vanunu's revelations that the Dimona site was
creating nuclear weapons, Vanunu's information indicated that Israel had
also built thermonuclear weapons. (Wikipedia)
the Federation of American Scientists by the late 1990s the U.S.
Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130
weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly
include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as
bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear
weapons of various types.
The US had been hypocritical
about Iran, approaching it with very different standards than it has for
Israel, India or even itself.
The US is seeking to prevent
Iran having a uranium enrichment program, even though there is no
evidence that it is being used for weapons production. By contrast, the
US has never said boo to Israel for having a nuclear weapons program and
for manufacturing actual nuclear devices. And Pakistan and India are
allies of the US, despite having acquired nuclear weapons outside the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In this matter, double standards
At the same time as it is demanding that Iran
abandon uranium enrichment, the US is offering India access to nuclear
materials and equipment for the expansion of its nuclear power program.
This offer reverses a 30-year old US policy of denying nuclear materials
and equipment to India, which was prompted by India's first nuclear
weapons test in 1974. If the deal goes through, India will acquire the
status, and the privileges, of a "nuclear-weapon" state like the five
official "nuclear weapon" states. This is going to happen, even though
India has never signed the NPT and can't sign it now without giving up
its nuclear weapons – which it isn't going to do.
supreme irony is that part of the payback the US expects for this deal
is India's support on the International Atomic Energy Agency Board in
denying Iran its "inalienable right" under the NPT to uranium enrichment
for peaceful purposes.
The U.S.-India nuclear deal exempts
India from the NPT's restrictions and permits it to keep its 50 to 120
nuclear bombs and build more. And the United States will start selling
India sensitive nuclear technology.
In September 2008,
Foreign Policy magazine editor Moisés Naím wrote: Double standards have
always been a part of U.S. foreign policy. He asked readers to tell him
which double standard in U.S. foreign policy bothers you the most?
Readers' comments were published in October 2008. Here are some of the
- As long as the United States perceives utility and
purpose in maintaining and improving a large nuclear weapons stockpile,
then there is no reason in the end why other nations should not also
want to do the same.
- North Korea's and Pakistan's human
rights records are abysmal, but Pakistan is a strategic partner and
North Korea is a pariah. International law is important, yet the United
States can sign a deal with India, undermining the Nuclear
- If America were truly pursuing a
policy of bettering the world and serving a practical lesson of justice
for the entire world to see, then how can we explain its reluctance in
signing the Rome Statute and becoming a state party to the International
Criminal Court at The Hague?
- Assertions of support for
democracy, human rights, and self-determination for all peoples, while
frequently overthrowing democratically elected governments to install
right-wing dictators who not only have no respect for those proclaimed
values, but actively undermine them, with brutal, even lethal results,
to which the United States turns a blind eye and even offers covert
- The United States uses lack of religious freedom and
democracy to oppose Iran, while supporting the same in Israel. Israel is
a selective democracy (if that can be called democracy), where 50
percent of the population under its control does not have any
citizenship or rights and 20 percent of the rest are second-class
citizens who have to accept the majority's dominance and superiority.
- The Israeli-Palestinian double standard where Israel can do
no wrong. The United States should make a list of all of its vetoes of
U.N. sanctions against Israel, and that list alone would convince
rational Americans that Arabs do not just "hate our freedoms" but have
real grievances the United States refuses to redress and refuses to let
anyone else (including the United Nations) redress.
Palestine/Israel. We would never tolerate being occupied in America; we
would never tolerate roads for "whites only"; we would never tolerate a
wall on our property that divides our communities and contributes to 70
percent unemployment; we would never tolerate checkpoints; and we would
never tolerate collective punishment (I don't get thrown in jail or
missiles fired at my home from helicopters when my neighbor does
something wrong). Why is it OK when it comes to the Palestinians?
- Promoting democratic elections, and then ignoring the results if we
don't like them, e.g., Gaza and Hamas.
- Any government in the
world that tries to care more for its people than for American business
interests finds itself in trouble with the United States. The military
or the Central Intelligence Agency, or both, will intervene with
- The most disgusting double standard
from the USA is the one that says "we're a Christian nation" and then
the world sees the most un-Christian activities conducted under the
guise of "democracy" and "liberalism."
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is
the Executive Editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective:
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