Keith Harris – 4/16/10

The possession of nuclear weapons by any nation represents a threat to any nation. For this reason, President Obama’s nuclear summit, taking place this week, is of tremendous importance.

Already, progress has been made. Ukranian leadership has pledged to dispose of its enriched uranium stockpile. But there is, of course, much more progress to be made. Every nation possessing nuclear weapons, including the United States, is a threat to the global community. Those who doubt that the United States’ possession is a threat to the world need only ask the Japanese to understand. The U.S. is, in fact, the only country ever to have used nuclear weaponry in actual warfare.

Despite the threat they pose to global security, many nations remain adamant in the defense of their nuclear programs. Others prevent non-proliferation progress by way of withholding information. Chiefly among these is Israel. For years, it has been suggested that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Israeli leadership has thus far refused to admit to or deny this accusations. Israeli whistleblowers, however, in conjunction with those of other nations, have insisted that Israel does in fact possess dozens of nuclear weapons. This is made more disturbing by the fact that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has refused to attend the nuclear conference. Netanyahu claims that his refusal is due to a belief that Israel would be unfairly singled out due to what it has termed "nuclear ambiguity." In other words, he’s claiming that Israel would be unfairly singled out simply due to the nation’s refusal to shed light on its nuclear program. In Netanyahu’s absence, Israel’s deputy prime minister will attend.

The Israeli prime minister’s refusal to attend the event is representative of Israel’s general policy toward foreign affairs. Israel often makes a large show of promoting peace while quietly undermining it. For instance, throughout the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been going on since the times of the Cold War, several deals have been brought to the table which have been agreed upon by the Palestinians and backed by the United Nations, only to be refused by Israel and the United States.

To be fair, Netanyahu is not the only one who will not be in attendance at the president’s nuclear summit. No representative of Iran will be present at the conference either. This is, however, due simply to the fact that Iran was not invited despite being a consistent proponent of nuclear non-proliferation. In fact, Iran intends to host its own nuclear disarmament conference this April, the slogan of which being: "Nuclear energy for everyone, nuclear arms for no one."

Iran has long bemoaned the double standard which the world has exhibited toward its own nuclear program and that of Israel. Israel’s response to this is simple: it claims that Iran is a threat to the security of the Middle East while Israel is a force for peace.

This argument, however, falls apart quickly as soon as one examines contemporary Middle Eastern history. Israel has, over the past several decades, exhibited a pattern of imperialistic warfare and human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, including the use of chemical weapons. Iran, by contrast, has not engaged in war since 1988, when the nation signed a peace treaty with Iraq following the latter’s six year assault on Iran. Incidentally, during this war, Iraq, backed unwaveringly by the United States, is known to have used chemical weapons. Of course, Saddam Hussein would later be blamed by the world, including the United States, for use of these weapons.

It is this type of hypocrisy, not merely the struggle over nuclear weapons, which has destabilized the Middle East and the world as a whole. Until the United States and Israel, which is essentially an nation-sized military base for the United States, begin to act with integrity in the Middle East and elsewhere, it is unlikely that the world will be able to make any great strides toward nuclear disarmament or general peace.