Tuesday, November 12, 2019 -
Print Edition

US vote on Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty confuses Iran for Israel

What is wrong with this logic?

The US has no right to lecture Iran or any other country on nuclear weapons because the US (along with Russia) is the largest owner of nuclear weapons in the world. The US should get its own house in order before it hectors Iran, Israel or anyone else on adhering to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The fallacy in this logic is simple: It is not the ownership of the nuclear weapons per se, but the use to which its owner wants to put them, that determines the right to possess them.


The use to which the US wants to put nuclear weapons is peace. America’s possession of nuclear weapons stood as the only deterrent to Russia during the Cold War. Simply put, the only thing that stood between freedom and Russian communist domination of the entire world was America’s nuclear weapons — and will.

It is exactly this logic that characterizes Israel’s ownership of nuclear weapons. They are the only deterrent to Iran’s and to the Arab states’ domination of Israel. The use to which Israel wants to put nuclear weapons is peace.

This is why it was egregiously detrimental to peace for the US to vote three weeks ago to condemn Israel for not signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

That the rest of the world was ready to condemn Israel is hardly a small thing, but, most unfortunately, this is expected. For the US to have joined the anti-Israel herd calls into question the basic common sense of the Obama administration.

Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons is the principle barrier between a massive war against Israel by all Arab states (including, we fear, the two with which Israel has peace treaties, Jordan and Egypt). Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons also has the salutary side effect of focusing Arab hostility on one address, thus deflecting the potential for much intra-Arab conflict.

The review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty conducted by the UN failed to address the repeated violator of that treaty: Iran. It also omitted Syria’s violations of that treaty. For the US to have approved the UN position was to elevate Iran above Israel. Iran has signed the treaty; Israel has not. Therefore, Iran is more responsible than Israel — that’s the import of the US vote.

This places formalism above substance and peace. The issue is not who signs; the issue is who acts for peace. To equate Iran with peace, just because it signed the NPT, is formally correct, but substantively absurd. Iran signed the treaty — then flouted it, and continues to flout it. So what’s the worth of the signature? In fact, what is the point of the treaty review conference if it lets Iran off the hook?

On the other hand, Israel is honest. It has not signed the treaty, implicitly conceding that it owns nuclear weapons and would fail international inspections. Formally, Israel is beneath Iran. Yet, substantively, Iran threatens to annihilate Israel, while Israel threatens to annihilate no one.

The US vote to single out Israel — i.e., 189 countries against 1 — is a shameful degradation of America’s moral leadership in the Middle East. Not to mention, another wedge in the trust between Israel and the US, and another spur to Israel to think about going it alone against Iran.

The UN calls on itself to convene a conference in 2012 for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Right — do little to actually stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, then expect the Middle East to be nuclear-free. (UNsanctions hurt Iran, but  are too weak to stop her nuclear pursuit.) By focusing on Israel, by ignoring the real threat to Middle East peace, namely, Iran, the UN is really compelling other potential victims of Iran — such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan —to pursue their own nuclear programs. The UN is stimulating the exact opposite of a nuclear-free Middle East.

For the US to have bought into this is the most damaging American act in the Middle East. The publicity surrounding the flotilla incident, which broke just a couple of days after the US vote to condemn Israel, overshadowed the US vote. However, in danger to Israel’s security, in long-term implications for Middle East stability, in simple common sense, the US vote was much more significant. It does lend credence to the view that, on Israel, Obama is not to be trusted.




Leave a Reply