U.S. joins Security Council statement calling for a "nuclear-free Middle East"

Alternate headline: “U.S. takes Muslim bait, calls on Israel to give up nukes.”

In fairness, they’re affirming standing U.S. policy from the Clinton administration, aimed at showing “evenhandedness” between Israel and Arab nations. It’s useful political cover for Sunni leaders who are worried about Iran but are also worried about being perceived as soft on Israel while getting tough on a fellow Islamic nation. “No nukes” is an easier sell to Muslims than “no nukes except for Tel Aviv’s,” needless to say. Even so, this is a fun illustration of how far international nuclear politics strains to appear concerned about weapons but formally “neutral” regarding who possesses those weapons. Ask Hosni Mubarak or either of the Abdullahs whether he’s more frightened by Khamenei or Netanyahu having his finger on the button. I assure you, the answer won’t be neutral.

Tapper’s source says it’s no biggie:

An official with a pro-Israel organization in Washington tells ABC news that the resolution is not a big deal since “that’s always been the US position, that when there’s comprehensive peace in the region with no remaining threats, there would be total disarmament.”

Policymakers refer to the path to that Eden as a “long corridor” – and implementation of the 1995 resolution wouldn’t begin until the Middle East reaches the end of that corridor.

“So far, this is boilerplate on the part of the US,” the official with the pro-Israel organization told ABC News. “The State Department had been very clear that we don’t see the necessary conditions — comprehensive peace in the region and the elimination of military threats to our allies in Israel — to pursue this now.”

The tougher questions for the Obama administration, the official said, are what will the president push in the name of reaching that place of peace?

Yeah, good question. Great question, actually, considering that the U.S. and its Sunni allies can’t seem to agree on what the first step towards a “nuclear-free Middle East” should be. The U.S., as expected, seems to think Iran should lead the way by giving up its nuke program; Egypt appears to think Israel should lead by example by declaring its arsenal and opening itself to UN inspections simultaneously with international pressure on Iran. One would think this minor detail would have been hammered out before the U.S. signed on to the Security Council statement and gave the “de-arm Israel” movement a boost. But then, this is the same administration that thinks an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement is some sort of necessary pre-condition to convincing Iran to give up its own program.

Exit question: Care to guess whose view, America’s or Egypt’s, the IAEA has adopted?

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