[ Sunday, April 03, 2005 ]
U.S. says Israel Must Give Up Nukes
By Amir Oren
The State Department yesterday called on Israel to forswear
nuclear weapons and accept international Atomic Energy
Agency safeguards on all nuclear activities.
This is the second time in about two weeks that officials
in the Bush administration are putting the nuclear weapons
of Israel, India and Pakistan on a par.
The officials called on the three to act like Ukraine and
South Africa, which in the last decade renounced their
The similar phrasing used by the officials refers to
Israel's military nuclear capability, as distinct from
"nuclear option," which is to be rolled back, although not
necessarily in the "foreseeable future."
The rare use of these terms contradicts the custom of
senior administration officials to avoid any possible
confirming reference to Israeli nuclear weapons.
The officials, who hold middle-level and lower ranks, are
Jackie Wolcott Sanders, ambassador, Conference on
Disarmament and special representative of the president for
the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and Mark
Fitzpatrick, acting deputy assistant secretary for nonproliferation.
Sanders was quoted yesterday in the State Department's
Electronic Journal, published ahead of the Non
Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference scheduled in
New York at the beginning of May.
Fitzpatrick spoke on March 17 at a security conference of
the Organization of American States (OAS).
President George Bush called for a strengthening
of the NPT regime and thwarting the efforts of rogue states
and terrorists to obtain weapons of mass destruction. Bush
devoted his statement to enforcing NPT clauses on treaty
regime members (like North Korea and Iran) and ignored non
-member states (India, Pakistan, Israel and Cuba).
In the past six years, since the Wye conference in 1998,
presidents Clinton and Bush repeatedly promised then prime
ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak and also Ariel
Sharon that Israel's strategic capability to protect itself
will not be harmed.
Israeli experts on Bush's nuclear policy say that the
president is focusing on objecting to the nuclear process
of North Korea and Iran, and even approves aid to India -
in nuclear energy among other things - and to Pakistan
(selling F-16 planes), while far lower ranks abound with
verbal formulas to excuse the withdrawal of the NPT regime
during the Bush era.
Sanders and Fitzpatrick refrained from calling on Israel,
India and Pakistan explicitly to renounce their weapons.
The expectation of these three states was phrased in terms
of a vow - a verbal pledge to forswear, rather than real
action. Nor was this demand accompanied by a time table,
conditions and sanctions.
An official known for his sympathy for Israel, Robert
Joseph, has been nominated undersecretary of state for arms
control and international security, and has been serving in
a similar position on the staff of the National Security
Council. His predecessor in the post is UN ambassador-
designate John Bolton, also known for his sympathy for
Sanders and Fitzpatrick hold more junior ranks in the
In her statement yesterday Sanders said: "The Conference
should also reinforce the goal of universal NPT adherence
and reaffirm that India, Israel and Pakistan may join the
NPT only as non-nuclear-weapon states. Just as South Africa
and Ukraine did in the early 1990s, these states should
forswear nuclear weapons and accept IAEA safeguards on all
nuclear activities to join the treaty. At the same time, we
recognize that progress toward universal adherence is not
likely in the foreseeable future. The United States
continues to support the goals of the Middle East
resolution adopted at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension
Conference, including the achievement of a Middle East free
of weapons of mass destruction."
According to the Israeli experts, the American
administration does not want to expand nuclear
proliferation to additional states in the region and agrees
that in time it would be preferable to have the Middle East
nuclear free, but disagrees with the immediate adoption of
a policy which would prevent American forces like the Sixth
Fleet ships and airplanes from carrying nuclear warheads in
bombs and missiles as well.
This is the seventh time that the Review Conference is
convening, to mark the 35th year of the NPT's
establishment. The conference, held every five years, will
end at the end of May, shortly before the IAEA governing
council meets in Vienna in June to elect a director
general. The U.S. has not decided yet whether to support
incumbent IAEA Director General, Mohammed ElBaradei for
art [11:34 PM]