Obama to force Israel to give up nukes?
posted at 9:29 am on May 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The Washington Times reports that Barack Obama may counter demands from Israel to confront Iran over their nuclear program by confronting Israel over theirs. Eli Lake has the exclusive on the Obama administration’s strategy to force Israel under the umbrella of the non-proliferation treaty, apparently as a condition to getting Iran to surrender their nukes. The effort will include India and Pakistan, and comes from a 2006 Saudi peace plan that would leave Israel at the mercy of the armies surrounding the state:
President Obama’s efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel’s nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists say.
The issue will likely come to a head when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mr. Obama on May 18 in Washington. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to seek assurances from Mr. Obama that he will uphold the U.S. commitment and will not trade Israeli nuclear concessions for Iranian ones.
Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, speaking Tuesday at a U.N. meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), said Israel should join the treaty, which would require Israel to declare and relinquish its nuclear arsenal.
Gottemoeller has a track record of demanding Israeli disarmament:
However, Ms. Gottemoeller endorsed the concept of a nuclear-free Middle East in a 2005 paper that she co-authored, “Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security.”
“Instead of defensively trying to ignore Israels nuclear status, the United States and Israel should proactively call for regional dialogue to specify the conditions necessary to achieve a zone free of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons,” she wrote.
The paper recommends that Israel take steps to disarm in exchange for its neighbors getting rid of chemical and biological weapons programs as well as Iran forgoing uranium enrichment.
The Obama administration appointed Gottemoeller, fully cognizant of her thinking on this issue. One has to assume that her appointment to the senior position at State constitutes an endorsement of those positions. It wouldn’t be the most radical thinking about Israel from this administration; Samantha Powers, who works between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice, once called for a Western occupation of Israel and forced disarmament of their entire army.
Gottemoeller’s speech had to have been cleared by the Obama administration, and so appears to represent their foreign-policy position. The Bush administration and its predecessors handled the situation more tactfully, supporting a “nuclear-free Middle East” without naming names. Why? The position of Israel in the Middle East is unique. They are not just simply another nation among many. They had been the one successful continuous democracy in that region, save Turkey, and quite obviously surrounded by nations explicitly threatening to annihilate them. Israel had to develop a deterrent that would keep a nation of 5 million people alive among 100 million enemies.
Over the years, some of those neighbors have moderated their stance somewhat towards Israel; Egypt and Jordan have diplomatic relations with Israel, but in Egypt’s case only because Washington pays them to do it. None of the rest of the nations in that region even recognize Israel’s existence, and two of them — Syria and Iran — have a long-running proxy war of terror running against Israel. Under those conditions, Israel can be forgiven for thinking that a deterrent is still a damned good idea.
Besides, the Iranian nuclear program threatens the US as well. We want to stop Iran from building nukes to keep them out of the hands of terrorists, and not just those aimed at Israel. They don’t call us the Great Satan out of respect, after all, and Iranian leadership has been just as annihilationist towards America as it has been towards Israel. Instead of disarming our allies, maybe we should just concentrate on disarming our enemies.