Thursday, December 8, 2011

Post #108 - Tying Up the Dogs of War

"Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek in this 21st century..." (Rev. Joseph Nangle, in testimony before a hearing of the U.S. Department of Energy)

"Our technological civilization has just reached its greatest level of savagery." (Albert Camus, two days after the Hiroshima bombing)

To avoid a potential nuclear arms race in this volatile and vital region is worth herculean efforts. First issued in 1974, this call was referenced in UN Security Resolution 687 passed in 1991. Recognizing that Israel – a nuclear-weapons state that has chosen not to join the NPT regime – is a linchpin to such an agreement, it may be time to push for the enforcement of UN Security Resolution 487, which mandated the placement of Israel's facilities under IAEA inspection, as a first step. Iranian leaders have, at certain points, endorsed the Weapons-Free Zone idea; they, too, must be urged to make that a formal and irretrievable reality. Other countries of the region, who do not yet possess such capability, should be easier to bring into the fold, as their own security concerns would make it desirable.

David Hirst, a British Middle East correspondent for the Guardian who has also written for many of America's most noted newspapers, as well as the Toronto Globe and Mail, Beirut’s Daily Star, Cairo’s al-Ahram Weekly and the Japan Times, is the author of Sadat, a study of the late Egyptian president, and a highly-acclaimed account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East. In a March 25, 2006 article he wrote about nuclear arms and the Middle East:

Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona
"Non-proliferation must be universal or not at all. This premise accords with the plain and equitable logic that if – in any zone of potential conflict – one party goes nuclear, its adversaries cannot be expected not to follow the same course. Never mind how long ago it was, by violating that principle [when it developed its own nuclear weaponry] Israel was going to bear a heavy responsibility for whatever happened later...
"Equally, since Iran’s deceit is held against it, there should be no statute of limitation on Israel’s deception as it developed its nuclear programme...It began by assuring the US that its top secret plant at Dimona was a textile factory. Then it announced it was a pumping station. Then, just after the then Foreign Minister Golda Meir solemnly proclaimed Israel’s “special concern [to] remove the awful dangers [of nuclear weapons] to humanity,” it became a “desalination plant”...
"An internal CIA memo written in 1963 warned that by greatly enhancing its sense of security, a nuclear capacity would make Israel less - not more – conciliatory towards the Arabs; it would exploit its new ‘psychological advantages’ to ‘intimidate’ them...To be sure, it has always justified it as its ‘Samson option’– its last recourse against neighbours bent on destroying it.
"... The basic reason [Israel] can resist what the world requires of it is because it runs no ultimate risk in doing so...[This] is what Shimon Peres, the father of Israel’s nuclearization, was alluding to when he said: “Acquiring a superior weapons system would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes; that is – forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands.” Or what Moshe Sneh, a leading Israeli strategist, meant when he said: “I don’t want the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to be held under the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb.” As if the Arabs haven’t had to negotiate under the shadow of an Israeli bomb these past four decades...
"It is a legacy of America’s own...acquiescence in a nuclear Israel – which subsequently turned into uninhibited endorsement of it by a succession of seemingly ever more pro-Israeli US administrations.
‘There is only one way,’ wrote the veteran Israeli military analyst Ze’ev Schiff, ‘to avoid a nuclear balance of terror: to use the time left, while we still have a monopoly in this field, to make peace - first with the Palestinian people, and then with all the nations of the region. In the framework of peace, a nuclear-free zone with mutual inspection can be established.’
"But that familiar axiom of Israeli nuclear philosophy is the wrong way round. For making peace – as the CIA memo foresaw in 1963 – Israel doesn’t need the intransigence that absolute security brings with it, but the spirit of compromise which a judicious dose of insecurity might produce. A utopian notion perhaps – especially with the world now so focused on the villainy of Iran. But it is greatly preferable to a US onslaught, which would add so thick a layer to an already mountainous deposit of anti-Western feeling that Israel could barely even hope ever to win acceptance in the region."

Mohamed El Baradei
The national group Peace Action has issued a call for a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East. Peace Action has said, “If the United States endorses the call for a Middle East NWFZ, it will send an unmistakable signal that it is serious about preventing nuclear proliferation and, beyond that, about achieving peace in the Middle East.” As Mohamed El Baradei, then-Director General of the IAEA and now a prominent figure in post-Mubarak Egypt, said, “The margin of security under the current non-proliferation regime is becoming too slim for comfort.” A similar statement was signed in August 2007 by two dozen peace groups including The Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological and Chemical Weapons, CodePink (US), Islamic Human Rights Commission (UK), No Nuclear Weapons (Norway), and four Nobel Peace Prize winners individually.

Beyond this relatively modest goal lies the necessity to fulfill our own obligation under the NPT – clearly written into Article VI of the agreement itself as incumbent upon the “nuclear states” – to move toward full and complete nuclear disarmament. In 2007 former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former secretary of defense and co-director of the Preventive Defense Project at Stanford William Perry, and former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn each called for international cooperation to move towards a nuclear-weapons-free world, understanding that reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent is becoming "increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective." The experience of countries such as Argentina and Brazil, which have chosen to eschew the nuclear option, could be the basis for this potentially life-preserving dialogue.

On December 2 of this year, the Woodrow Wilson Center's International Security Studies and Middle East Program hosted, in conjunction with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a seminar on "Addressing the Establishment of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East. From their mouths to the ear of God...

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