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Israel's secret nuclear threats

The greatest danger to the peo ples of the Middle East, including the people of Israel, comes from Israel's determination to retain control of the land it conquered 40 years ago, and its willingness to use nuclear weapons to maintain its dominance of these territories.

Israel is committed to a semi-open nuclear policy referred to as the “Samson option”, a threat to bring down the entire Middle East, and perhaps even the world, to maintain its controlling position, and to prop up allied authoritarian states in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere.

Nuclear bombs and Israel's wars

Nuclear weapons have been a live policy option in Israel for 40 years. We've known for some time (because of Avner Cohen's landmark study Israel's Bomb) that Israel, which started a nuclear weapons programme in the 1950s, actually assembled and put on “operational alert” two deliverable nuclear bombs weeks before its June 1967 assault on Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.
Israel went on full-scale nuclear alert again during the first Gulf war in 1991. An Israeli commentator urged before the war, in October 1990, that Iraq should be told that “any Iraqi action against Israeli civilian populations, with or without gas, may leave Iraq without Baghdad.” This is the kind of unclear and “opaque” language that all Israeli leaders have used about their nuclear weapons (owning up to proliferation would immediately end over $2bn in annual US aid). Well, this is the language used by all Israeli leaders except current prime minister Ehud Olmert, who in December 2006 accused Iran of “aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as [do] America, France, Israel, Russia”.

Iran copying Israel?

Israeli nuclear expert Avner Cohen draws a parallel between Israel's “opaque” nuclear history and Iran's suspected ambitions: “It may well be that some Iranians have come to believe that by mimicking the Israeli model as much as they could, they would get all the prestige and deter rence effects they need but without leaving the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, let alone without testing or declaring such a bomb.”

The “secret weapon”

In 1992 Israeli nuclear insider Oded Brosh linked Israel's nuclear weapons to the fact that “the Saudi royal family is not going to reign forever” and that “the Egyptian regime may change”.
Israel Shahak discussed these and other semi-official remarks in Open Secrets: Israeli nuclear and foreign policies. He argued that Israel seeks domination of the entire Mid dle East -- including by propping up allied dictatorships -- “without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones”.

Bringing down the temple

Israel's nuclear force, like all nuclear arsenals, is not simply a lastditch defence, to be used only to preserve national destruction. (Even in these circumstances, the image of Samson bringing down the tem ple on himself and his enemies indicates this is a doctrine of national suicide and possibly of regional genocide.)

Israel Shahak quotes the first director of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weapons, Munya Mardoch, who said, “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states”. Israel is determined to be a dominant state, not a vassal state.As the 1973 ArabIsraeli war began, the US wanted to “let Israel come out ahead, but bleed” (Secretary of State Henry Kissinger). The US deliberately delayed the supply of arms in order to allow the Arab states to win some territory and some selfrespect, and to lay the basis for serious peace negotiations. The Israeli government decided to put its nuclear forces on alert in order to frighten the US into speeding up the supply of weapons. The threat succeeded, as Kissinger, alarmed at the prospect of nuclear war, immediately ordered the acceleration of the arms resupply. (See Hersh.)

Threatening Iran

In May 2006, in response to Iranian President Ahmadinejad's supposed threat to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, Israeli deputy prime minister Shimon Peres said, “They want to wipe out Israel... when it comes to destruction, Iran too can be destroyed.”

Ahmadinejad was misquoted -- he was referring to the political state of Israel, not Israel as a nation -- and the sentiment has been expressely withdrawn by the Iranian Foreign Minister on 18 May. Shimon Peres, on the other hand, was criticised for being too open. Israel's nuclear doctrine threatens national suicide, regional catastrophe and possibly global war, in the interests of power, not self-preservation.

Topics: Nuclear Weapons