It's bad enough that Israel, along with North Korea, Pakistan, and India, maintains an unacknowledged nuclear arsenal outside the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). But, unlike the other three, which are all too happy to trumpet their possession of nukes to their neighbors and world, Israel continues to keep up the farcical, not to mention insulting, pretense that it's nuke-free. Worse, the United States enables it in the ultimate game of don't ask, don't tell.
Obviously that doesn't sit well with Arab states, not to mention Iran. At the 2010 General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) two weeks ago, they once again called for Israel to join the NPT. But their resolution, even though it was nonbinding, was rejected by the other members states of the IAE. Reuters reported:
Washington had urged countries to vote down the symbolically important although non-binding resolution, saying it could derail broader efforts to ban nuclear warheads in the Middle East and also damage fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"The winner here is the peace process, the winner here is the opportunity to move forward with a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East," said Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
But as Steve Hynd at Newshoggers writes:
That Israel seems able to entirely dictate the agenda, with the US bending over to accommodate its demands that it hang onto both its nuclear arsenal and the almost non-existent veil of "ambiguity" draped over it, does not seem to me to bode well for Middle-Eastern peace or for regional disarmament.
To expand on that, Washington seems to think that helping Israel keep up non-nuclear appearances might make Israel less inclined to once again undermine the Israel-Palestine peace process. Especially since, as the World Bank pronounced last week: "If the Palestinian Authority maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future."
To even suggest that facilitating Israel's silence about its nuclear weapons program paves the way for both peace in the Middle East and making it a nuclear-free weapons zone is yet another slap in the face to the Arab states and Iran. The latter, especially, can scarcely be expected to to surrender to the the view that its obstructionism, however maddening, around a program that nowhere close to weaponized, is an exponentially -- not to mention "existentially" -- greater threat than a state that has had nukes for years and refuses to admit as much.
The other discordant nuclear note of the week arrives courtesy of Greg Mello in a Los Alamos Study Group mailing. On September 14, the 23 Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee issued a press release that stated:
Due to the failure of the Democrat [sic] Congress to enact a single Appropriations bill so far this year to provide funding for Federal Government programs and agencies, a CR [Continuing Resolution] will be necessary to continue government operations past the end of the fiscal year, which expires on September 30th." They insist that the CR "be 'clean' and free of any extraneous spending or policy provisions" and focused instead on "continuing the activities of government at the absolute minimum level necessary until we finish our work on the fiscal year 2011 spending bills.
Amazingly, the "extraneous spending" to which they seek to put a stop now includes not only typical Democratic measures like a "$1.9 billion increase for new Race to the Top grants, $250 million increase for new and expanded programs to implement the health care bill," but a "$624 million increase for programs related to the unratified START Treaty."
If the Republicans are cutting off their nose to spite their face, they're owed grudging credit for sticking to their big government principles. Wait: isn't it more likely that they're intent on hitting the Obama administration up for an even larger increase in nuclear-weapons spending next year?
First posted at Focal Points.