Proliferation Press

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

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

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.

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Israel’s Raid and Blockade: Legal Under International Law?

Posted by K.E. White on June 2, 2010

Maritime lawyer Douglas Guifoyle discusses the legal issues surrounding Israel’s recent raid at BBC.com.

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Israel Complicates Obama’s Planned Summit on Combating Nuclear Terrorism

Posted by K.E. White on August 11, 2009

Politico leads with a diplomatic piece exploring President Barack Obama’s goal to jump-start multilateral discussion on nuclear security; specifically the difficulties Israel presents to any future  summit on nuclear terrorism prevention.

Side-notes—Obama has yet to visit Israel; former Bush administration U.N. ambassador John Bolton offers this up to The WSJ:

Relations between the U.S. and Israel are more strained now than at any time since the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. Mr. Gates’s message for Israel not to act on Iran, and the U.S. pressure he brought to bear, highlight the weight of Israel’s lonely burden.

Striking Iran’s nuclear program will not be precipitous or poorly thought out. Israel’s attack, if it happens, will have followed enormously difficult deliberation over terrible imponderables, and years of patiently waiting on innumerable failed diplomatic efforts. Absent Israeli action, prepare for a nuclear Iran.

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Blog-on-Blog: About Jeffrey Goldberg Blog Bashing Roger Cohen

Posted by K.E. White on March 17, 2009

Summary: Let’s move on from debates over the character of the Iranian regime; it gets us no closer to the real questions: 1) how best to deter Iran from going nuclear and 2) if Iran develops nuclear weapons, how best to prevent catastrophe.

Yesterday Jeffrey Goldberg dedicated his Atlantic blog entry to exposing NYTimes columnist Roger Cohen’s shallow conception of the Iranian threat faced by Israel. You can read/watch the ‘Cohen evisceration’ here in full, but here’s boiled down version:

-Roger Cohen debated Rabbi David Wolpe; the topic: Iran and Israel

-Wolpe insists Cohen imagine a time when the balance of power between Iran and Israel flips: meaning when Iran has nuclear weapons/equal or greater conventional military capabilities. Add to this that Hamas and Hezbollah are Iran proxies, and thus would reap direct benefits from such strategic flip.

-Cohen waffles—says some things about stopping Iran from getting The Bomb. Audience laughs.

The problems with this semantic takedown (even if Contentions gives it kudos):

continue reading this post

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News Update: Syria’s Suspected Nuclear Site

Posted by K.E. White on November 1, 2007

Summary: Fox News talks with David Albright on his satellite analysis of Syria’s suspect nuclear site. And Oxford Analytica speculates on motives for Israel to overreact towards Syria’s mysterious site. And the IAEA investigation won’t make clearing anything up soon. 

Fox News talks with Albright, who suggests Israel’s attack was a rush-job:
 

“The Israelis stumbled upon this, were surprised and acted quickly,” Albright said. “And so we don’t know what evidence they collected or (if) they just panicked and decided to act without knowing and worried about the worse case.” 

Analysis of those previous images, taken by DigitalGlobe, found that the structure could be a nuclear facility at least several years from completion similar to one in North Korea, according to an ISIS report released last week.

Oxford Analytica lists reasons for an Israel overreaction, and suggests this nuclear mystery won’t clear up anytime soon:

The publicly available information could have other reasons for wanting to suggest the site was nuclear:

–Israel is anxious to rebuild an appearance of strength after its perceived setback at the hands of Hizbollah in Lebanon last year.

–Israel may also have been interested in taking action that might cause Iranian leaders to reconsider their own nuclear ambitions.

–Attacking an alleged nuclear facility in Syria–a much easier target than Iran–might serve both purposes.

If the site was a nuclear reactor under construction, it has serious implications for security in the region and on the global stage.

And such uncertainty appears to be crippling the IAEA investigation into the site. From Reuters:

A U.N. watchdog inquiry into a suspected Syrian covert nuclear site bombed by Israel may end inconclusively without more information than satellite pictures that are already available, a diplomat said on Wednesday.

The IAEA has been studying before-and-after commercial aerial photos of the site and has asked Syria for explanations. But Syria has not replied and the pictures alone are unlikely to yield conclusions, the diplomat told Reuters.

“IAEA experts are looking back at the evolution of this facility. But with these pictures alone they feel they may be unable to draw conclusions,” the diplomat, familiar with IAEA affairs but not authorised to speak on the record, told Reuters.

Oxford Analytica points out that Syria is a fully compliment member of both the NPT and IAEA member of the NPT. And guess what? “[The suspected nuclear site] was still several years away from completion and was not required to be declared to the IAEA at its early stage of construction.”

Posted in IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Nuclear, Syria | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Syria’s Nuclear Update: Syria Denies and Destroys; IAEA Left in the Cold?

Posted by K.E. White on October 19, 2007

So Syria is trying to quell allegations that Israel bombed a nuclear facility within its territory. And all this confusion raises a serious question: Can the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) to effectively lead on nonproliferation efforts?

The equation of the Syrian nuclear press-blitz:

Denial + Destroy = Trust?

JTA Break News reports on Syrian plans to destroy the site, before it can be investigated by impartial parties:

Syria reportedly is clearing the remains of the alleged nuclear facility that Israel attacked last month.

Dismantling the site will make it difficult for International Atomic Energy Agency officials to learn what the facility was used for, the Washington Post reported Friday.

This will make it tough for IAEA inspectors, who noted with concern that IAEA-member Syria had not disclosed the site, in a tough spot.

But don’t worry: the United States has cleared up any confusion, via satellite photographs:

U.N. experts have received satellite imagery of the site struck last month by Israeli warplanes and are analyzing it for signs that it might have been a secret nuclear facility, diplomats said Friday.

One of the diplomats indicated that the photos came from U.S intelligence. Two others said the images, which have been studied by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency since being received on Thursday, do not at first examination appear to substantiate reports that the target was a nuclear installation, but emphasized that the images were still under examination.

The diplomats, who were briefed on the agency’s receipt of the images, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because their information was confidential. Officials of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog had no comment.

The Syrian episode seems to reveal some stark limitations on the IAEA. If member nations cannot be trusted to either disclose nuclear activities or conclusively disprove other nations’ nuclear allegations, how can the IAEA effectively curb proliferation?

Posted in IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Israeli strike, Nuclear, Syria | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Egypt Protests Eroding EU Support for Middle East Nuclear Free Zone

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

While Iran and North Korea nuclear ambitions dominate Western headlines, Israel’s undeclared-but-known nuclear weapons (aka ‘nuclear ambiguity) is a substantial hurdle to stemming Middle East nuclear proliferation. 

EU and aspiring EU members have backed off in their support for proclaiming a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. 

The reason? No, not Iran—but Israel. 

Whether one considers Israel’s nuclear forces justified or not, any long-term nonproliferation effort demand that Israel’s (along with India and Pakistan) nuclear status be declared and incorporated into international agreements on nuclear technology (i.e. the IAEA and NPT). 

From the Associated Press

European nations at past general conferences of the International Atomic Energy Agency have voted in favor of establishing a zone free of such arms. But at last month’s session, 25 of the 27 EU nations abstained as did other countries hoping to join the union. In all, 47 nations abstained. 

… 

This year, Israel and the United States opposed two paragraphs — one calling all nations in the Middle East “not to develop, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons,” the other urging nuclear weapons states to “refrain from any action” hindering the establishment of a Mideast zone free of nuclear weapons. Both passages were clearly aimed at Israel, which is thought to have nuclear weapons.

The vote prompted the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to send letters of protest to abstaining European nations. 

Arabnews.com describes the irritation experienced by Middle Eastern owing to the West’s tacit endorsement of Israel’s nuclear weapons—complicating nonproliferation efforts in this critical region.

However, the Egyptian and Syrian ambassadors yesterday signaled that their patience was wearing thin. “The fact that many UN and IAEA resolutions with regard to Israel’s nuclear capabilities are not carried out increases the frustration of the Arab peoples and threatens an arms race that could also threaten the peace and security of the region and the world,” said Othman.

He complained that Israel was the only country in the Middle East “to have nuclear weapons and nuclear capabilities which are not under international control.” It was, therefore, a legitimate concern “to ask Israel to join the other countries in the NPT” (the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), Othman said.

Posted in Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt, IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US India Nuclear Deal Hits An Israeli Snag, But Gets a French Boost

Posted by K.E. White on October 2, 2007

The US-India nuclear deal may have hit an Israeli stepback. With the deal already facing fire in New Delhi and still lacking IAEA approval, a new challenge has appeared: Israel is lobbying the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to give India and Israel access to nuclear trade.

Getting the NSG to make an exception for India–a non-NPT recognized nuclear power–already caused turbulence, but had apparently won the support of China and Russia. Will this Israel variable set India back to square one?

Will Turkey really support an exemption only adds emphasis to Pakistan–a non-recognized nuclear power–failure to get the same treatment as Israel and India? And how will this Israeli lobbying be viewed in the Middle East?

But India also got some good news on the NSG front. France, a key member of the group, will actively lobby for an Indian exception to NSG rules that bar nuclear trade with non-NPT member states.

The move was predictable, since France seeks to conclude its own nuclear deal with India.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports on the Israeli complication:

Using the Israeli proposal as an example, the opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal can argue that any exception to the NPT restriction may open the gate to proliferation as other non-recognised nuclear states may also demand acceptance. Documents outlining Israel’s proposal were distributed among the NSG members in March and have circulated on Capitol Hill in Washington in recent days.

The Israeli plan offers 12 criteria for allowing nuclear trade with non-treaty states, including one that hints at Israel’s status as an undeclared nuclear weapons state: A state should be allowed to engage in nuclear trade if it applies “stringent physical protection, control and accountancy measures to all nuclear weapons, nuclear facilities, source material and special nuclear material in its territory.”

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, said the Israeli document could affect the debate over India. “The dynamics at the NSG are that no country wants to stand in the way of the largest country, India, and the most powerful country, the US,” he said.

And The Hindu reports on French support for India’s nuclear exception:

In this regard, France is awaiting the waiver by NSG, the officials said, adding an Indo-French nuclear agreement would be on a “different scale” than the Indo-US deal.

It would involve transfer of crucial reprocessing technology that has been denied by Washington in the Indo-US deal.

“We feel that there is a necessity to introduce a change in the international system (on nuclear issue) to allow India to play its due role in it,” a senior official of the French Atomic Energy Commission told a group of visiting Indian journalists here.

Posted in America, France, France India nuclear deal, India, Israel, Nuclear Deal, Nuclear Suppliers Group, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »