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Netanyahu's Arsenal of Nukes

The Israeli Elephant in the Congress

by BARRY LANDO

London.

It’s astonishing that in the breathless run-up to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s appearance before a joint session of the U.S. Congress to warn of a nuclear-armed Iran, no one—politicians, editorial writers, media pundits—point out that there already is a nuclear power in the Middle East—Netanyahu’s Israel.

Estimates are that Israel has about 80 nukes, roughly the same number as Pakistan and India.

Although it has possessed nuclear weapons for more than half a century, Israel still refuses to own up to that fact, and the United States blandly continues to go along with that fiction. When asked in 2009 if he knew of any country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, Barack Obama avoided the trap by saying only that he did not wish to “speculate”.

The question is, whether you support Netanyahu’s policies or not, how can the U.S. and Israel and their allies block attempt to block Iran from acquiring the bomb, while pretending that Israel doesn’t already have one? How do you justify such a flagrant double standard?

How do you have a realistic assessment of a possible Iranian threat to Israel, without recognizing that any Iranian leader crazy enough to attack Israel, would have to act with the knowledge that Israel would retaliate with a nuclear arsenal that would obliterate not just Iran’s nuclear facilities, but all of Iran?

But, if they were to recognize the truth about Israel’s arsenal, American leaders would have to do something about it.

Which is the reason they’ve dodged the issue ever since the CIA first came to President Eisenhower in 1958-59 with news that Israel was developing a nuclear facility at Dimona with French covert assistance. As Seymour Hersh detailed in “The Samson Option,” Eisenhower’s White House made it clear they didn’t want to know.

One major reason was that by admitting that Israel was a nuclear power, the U.S.  would undermine its campaign to get the countries of the region to sign on to the new Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

(Ironically, beginning in 1974 under the Shah, and continuing under Khomeini, Iran would consistently call for a non-proliferation zone in the Middle East. To protect Israel, the U.S. would constantly dodge the issue.)

“Don’t be so naive,” Israel’s supporters will argue. “Sure, Israel has nukes, but its people live in a very dangerous neighborhood. And they’re our only real allies in that region. Our relationship is one of trust and respect.

“The Iranians, on the other hand, are a deceitful lot who have lied through their teeth about their nuclear goals since the beginning.”

The fact is, however, that from the start, the Israelis also lied about their nuclear ambitions.

In December 1960, for instance, the Eisenhower administration finally...

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