Friday, July 15, 2011

Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal and punishment of Iran: INTERVIEW Part IV

Kourosh Ziabari: Israel is said to be the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. With a declared policy of deliberate ambiguity, it has prevented the international community from investigating its arsenals, and the global organizations such as the UNSC in turn have shown little interest in focusing on Israel's dossier. Why can Israel enjoy immunity from international law and be exempted from being held accountable before the public opinion?

Abolghasem Bayyenat: As you indicated, it is an open secret that Israel possesses a formidable nuclear weapons arsenal. There are multiple reasons why Israel has escaped international scrutiny over its nuclear program. The apparent reason is legal. Israel has refused to become a member of the NPT and is thus not bound by its rules. This has in part provided a shelter for Israel from international criticism over its nuclear program. As you have also brought up, Israel's policy of strategic ambiguity with regard to its nuclear weapons program has also contributed to this immunity from international scrutiny. Unlike India and Pakistan, Israel has not openly tested any nuclear device for various reasons and this has also helped its nuclear weapons program go largely unnoticed.

But above all, the unconditional and unwavering U.S. support for Israel at the UN Security Council and other international forums has effectively blocked international calls for investigation into Israel's nuclear program. There is no hope for introducing any resolution in the UNSC on this matter as the United States stands too ready to veto any resolution which happens to be slightly critical of Israel. The fact that Israel is not a member of the NPT has also facilitated the task of the United States in preventing the issue of Israel's nuclear arsenals from appearing on the agenda of relevant international organizations by supplying it with a convenient legal justification.

Despite this prospect, any call for international probe into Israel's nuclear program should primarily come from Israel's neighboring countries as, more than any other country in the world they are endangered by Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal. However, autocratic Arab rulers have historically placed the survival of their regimes above their national interests and popular preferences. Given the lack of democratic accountability in the Arab world, conservative authoritarian Arab regimes have refrained from seriously pushing for international scrutiny into Israel's nuclear weapons program and calling for nuclear disarmament in the Middle East region, as demanded by their publics. These regimes have instead defined their interests in close harmony with Israeli and U.S. interests in the region by calling for international pressure on Iran's IAEA-monitored nuclear program.


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