Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

NYTimes Sloppy Reporting on The NPT and Israel

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2010

Did the Obama administration snub Israel during a nonproliferation summit earlier this summer?  The NYTimes wants you to think so, and—in so doing—offers a master-class in cherry picking facts.

The NYTimes reports on the costs of America negotiating a successful Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference earlier this summer.  Its focus?  The continuing strains plaguing the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The report portrays the United States as conceding to Arab demands “that the final (NPT) document urge Israel to sign the treaty.”  The reward?  President Obama ensured the quincennial conference would reach a final declaration, unlike its 2005 predecessor.

The article suggests this concession has further chilled relations between the United States and Israel.  But in implicitly shaping this clause of the NPT document as a U.S. concession, the article makes three critical omissions.

First, the document “recalls the reaffirmation by the 2000 Review Conference of the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty,” not what I would describing as ‘urging’ Israel to join the treaty.  (2010 Final Document)

But, more importantly, this reference to Israel is not novel.  Indeed, similar language appears in the conference’s 2000 declaration.  (2000 Final Document Article VII, Paragraph 3)

Admittedly, this request was not repeated in 2005.  But the tumultuous 2005 conference ended without any final declaration.

So Obama’s ‘concession’ merely recognized the status-quo.  Shouldn’t the NYTimes explore why 1) Israel expected such a shift and 2) the benefits-and-drawbacks of the status-quo?

But the NYTimes, latter on in the piece, suggests that it isn’t the reference itself, but rather the singling out of Israel—and not Iran’s nuclear program:

The United States, recognizing that the document would upset the Israelis, sought to distance itself even as it signed it.

In a statement released after the conference ended, the national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, said, “The United States deplores the decision to single out Israel in the Middle East section of the NPT document.” He said it was “equally deplorable” that the document did not single out Iran for its nuclear ambitions. Any conference on a nuclear-free Middle East, General Jones said, could only come after Israel and its neighbors had made peace.

The United States, American officials said, faced a hard choice: refusing to compromise with the Arab states on Israel would have sunk the entire review conference. Given the emphasis Mr. Obama has placed on nonproliferation, the United States could not accept such an outcome.

But the report omits another two critical facts:  1) Iran has not breached its obligations under the NPT (Iran claims to be pursuing a peaceful nuclear program) and 2) the final document doesn’t single out Israel—it also calls on India, Pakistan and North Korea to join the NPT.  (Paragraphs 108, 109 and 115)

Now was it smart policy for Obama to permit the NPT declaration to mention Israel directly?  I would argue it was his only choice:  if the NPT failed to reach a final declaration in back-to-back meetings, the treaty system would face a legitimacy crisis.

Why does the NPT matter?  It represents the legal basis for 189 countries—including Iran—not to proliferate nuclear weapons.

There are arguments for junking the NPT all-together, a subject the NYTimes article fails to mention.  Instead, the NYTimes settles for swallow reporting and simplistic analysis.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: