Fact #1: Only one country in the Middle East has nuclear weapons – Israel. The quantity is unknown, with estimates of the Israeli arsenal range between 60 and 400 bombs, the upper range of 200-400 being the most often cited. Fact #2: Only one country in the Middle East has refused to the sign the Non Proliferation Treaty – Israel. These two facts are not in dispute.
While most observers (except for the leadership of Israel and its agents of influence in the west, especially the US) believe making the Middle East a nuclear free zone would be a positive step toward peace, no one is pressuring Israel to give up its weapons. The goal of a nuclear free zone may be great for raising grant money, but without a commitment to pressure Israel into giving up its weapons, it will remain a pipe dream.
On the other hand, Israel and the US claim the unilateral right to insure that all of the Middle East other than Israel remains a nuclear free zone, by preemptive military action, if either country deems it to be necessary. To this end Israel, attacked the Osirak reactor without warning in Iraq (1981) and an alleged Syrian nuclear site without warning in 2007. Ironically, at the time of the Osirak attack, the Iraqi program was moribund and going nowhere, but the attack spurred Saddam into developing a more vigorous covert program. [Pillar] The real purpose of the alleged “nuclear” site in Syria remains in dispute, with some arguing that recent evidence proves it was a textile factory. Ironically, the Osirak attack set in course a chain of events that eventually combined to lead to the US attacking and destroying Iraq in 2003, justified primarily by false claims that Saddam Hussein was close to fielding nuclear weapons.
Now Iran is in the crosshairs for the same reason, although Iran is complying with IAEA nuclear safeguards and inspection requirements. Given the sorry history of “nuclear preemption,” perhaps it is time to ask the unmentionable question: So what? What is the debate really about? The attached essay by William Pfaff takes a stab at this question. One interesting point, an Israeli general indirectly confirmed Pfaff’s hypothesis about Israel’s real reason for going beserk over the possibility of Iran getting a nuclear weapon — you can find it here, but read Pfaff’s op-ed first.
PARIS — The obsession of the American foreign policy community, as well as most American (and a good many international) politicians, by the myth of Iran’s “existential” threat to Israel, brings the world steadily closer to another war in the Middle East.