Morning Report 8/9/05
The Atoms Family

Iran develops nukes, and Israel doesn't say boo about its own arsenal. Creepy.

Isfahan-nuke-plant.jpg

Death match: Iran's Isfahan nuclear plant (above) and Israel's Dimona nuclear plant (not pictured because it doesn't officially exist)

It's hardly surprising that the U.S. and the other "adults" in the world's nuclear family are in denial about the juvenile delinquency of Iran and Israel.

And isn't it so typical that only one of the brats faces immediate punishment?

The bigger problem is that if this family blows up, so do the rest of us.

Today's stories about Iran's resumption of its nuclear program tell it all. The New York Times and practically every other major news outlet describe how Iran is resuming nuclear activity but don't mention Israel or its snotty atomic little brothers Pakistan and India.

As the Times puts it:

    Iran has long contended that it has the legal right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to convert and enrich uranium for peaceful energy purposes, but agreed to suspend its activities as long as negotiations lasted with Britain, France and Germany over its nuclear program. Iran has admitted to deceiving inspectors for 17 years about many of its activities, and the United States argues that those deceptions effectively negate its right to a full nuclear program and that they provide a basis for international sanctions.

Yeah, well, three of Iran's nuclear siblings—Israel, India, and Pakistan—aren't even signers of the NPT. Israel doesn't even admit that it has nuclear weapons, and that's an outright lie—and a particularly dangerous one because of what else is going on in the Middle East these days.

Meanwhile, the U.S. isn't much of a father figure in this fractured family.

After all, the Bush regime's CEO, Dick Cheney, used to run Halliburton and still gets a regular paycheck from it. And now it turns out that Iranian officials have arrested executives of the private firm Oriental Oil Kish for having dealings with Halliburton. And the vice-chairman of Oriental Oil Kish's board is Sirus Nasseri, a senior member of Iran's nuclear negotiations team. From a July 29 story on Iran Focus:

    The [Fars] news agency said "a well-informed source" close to the investigation sharply criticized Iran's "security and political agencies" for their "blatant weakness" in preventing Nasseri from dealing with Halliburton.

    "The authorities must be particularly vigilant about the extensive economic activities of some of the country's officials", he said. The source noted that "Nasseri had access to the country's most secret information as a member of Iran's nuclear negotiations team and was at the same time dealing directly with the American company, Halliburton, which used to be run by Dick Cheney."

Hoo-boy!

And then you've got the AIPAC scandal, in which its de facto top official, Steve Rosen, has just been indicted, along with AIPAC Middle East analyst Keith Weissman, for allegedly conspiring to communicate classified info. The alleged scheme had Larry Franklin, a Feith flunky in the Pentagon, leaking secret info about Iran to the two AIPAC dudes, who then of course gave it to their pals in the Israeli government. Both guys, fired by AIPAC, say they're innocent.

Hoo-boy! Dang, this family is full of intrigue.

Meanwhile, what kind of intervention is planned for public bad boy Iran? David Dickson, director of the London website Science and Development Network, noted yesterday:

    Reporting Iran to the United Nations Security Council, for example, is unlikely to be particularly effective (and would probably be vetoed by at least one member of the council). While the consequences of another US invasion in the Middle East, as reported to be under consideration in some parts of Washington, are too distressing to contemplate.

    Furthermore, the Iranian authorities have a powerful political argument when they point to the contradictions between the attitude of the United States administration towards themselves and towards India. In the Indian case, the administration has recently indicated it would drop a previous ban on the export of nuclear technology for civilian purposes—despite the fact that India has still not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Iran itself has.

Just about the only paper that matter-of-factly addresses bad boy Israel's nukes is an Israeli paper, the dovish daily Haaretz. While continually updating a wire service story of today's negative reaction from around the world to Iran's resumption of nuke work, Haaretz adds a few key paragraphs for perspective:

    Iran has been careful to disperse its nuclear facilities and protect parts of it underground, wary of airstrikes to take out the program such as the 1981 Israeli air raid that destroyed neighboring Iraq's main nuclear reactor at Osirak.

    "Our nuclear capabilities are not annihilable," [General Ahmed] Vahid said. "We have mastered nuclear science by ourselves. In case of any damage, we could construct it somewhere else."

    Last year, Iran threatened to destroy Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor should the Jewish state attack Iran. Dimona is believed to be home to Israel's nuclear weapons development program.

    Israel maintains a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East and is thought to harbor about 200 warheads deployed on ballistic missiles, aircraft and submarines, according to the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Israeli officials do not comment on the country's nuclear weapons potential.

If you value your freedom, you won't either. Look what happened to Mordechai Vanunu, as Dan Ephron wrote last year in the Voice. Ephron succinctly summed up the secrecy:

    [Israel has] a don't-admit-don't-deny policy of nuclear ambiguity, which has allowed the Jewish state to develop nuclear weapons while avoiding international sanctions.

The U.S. not only plays along with this charade but also does its share of snooping on Iran's dealings with U.N. nuke officials. Dafna Linzer, who wrote this morning's perfunctory Washington Post story on Iran, produced a sizzler last December 12 when she reported:

    The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials.

As I wrote at the time:

    The whole thing smacks of the usual payback against anyone who crossed the Bush regime over its invasion of Iraq. This is hardly the first time the regime has gone Segretti on the rest of the world's asses. Last February, it was revealed that the U.S. and Britain bugged U.N. WMD inspector Hans Blix and others right here in Manhattan.

While such childish games are being played, these nutso countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are playing with nuclear weapons. A good history lesson regarding Israel's nuke arsenal isn't likely to be found in American newspapers, so read David Leigh's August 4 story in the Guardian (U.K.), "How the UK Gave Israel the Bomb":

    Britain secretly supplied the 20 tons of heavy water to Israel nearly half a century ago which enabled it to make nuclear weapons, according to Whitehall documents which have been discovered at the Public Records Office.

    Officials in the Macmillan government deliberately concealed the deal from the US, according to the files, which were discovered by BBC Newsnight and broadcast last night.

    Historians and politicians have been startled by the discovery, which sheds new light on the process by which Israel was able to circumvent attempts to restrict membership of the "nuclear club" to the great powers.

At the time, of course, the U.S. president was Dwight Eisenhower, a real-life general who seems like Mohandas Fucking Gandhi next to the warmongering fake soldiers of today's Cheney regime. Leigh's story noted:

    The deal was structured as a resale to Norway, which then traded the consignment on to Israel. This enabled British officials to say they had no responsibility themselves for imposing safeguards.

    But, according to the documents, the deal was concealed from the US, which was hostile to proliferation, because the Eisenhower administration might have insisted on unacceptable conditions which would have scuppered the sale.

    When Robert McNamara became the US defence secretary in 1961, he and President Kennedy strived to stop Israel from going on to build nuclear weapons. He told Newsnight last night that he had never known of Britain's behaviour at the time.

    "The fact Israel was trying to develop a nuclear bomb should not have come as a surprise but that Britain should have supplied it with heavy water was indeed a surprise to me," he said.

Don't absolve the U.S. entirely here. As British professor Irene Brennan pointed out in a letter in response to the Guardian article:

    [L]ater US administrations and their NATO allies have adopted policies of secret, and then more overt, cooperation with Israel. Knowing nuclear weapons are only as effective as their delivery systems, they have made sophisticated systems available to Israel. According to the Monterey Institute, as well as 50 Jericho 2 missiles targeted at the Middle East, Israel has also Ra'am planes (range 4,500 km) and Shavit space launchers (4,800 km) that have the capability to strike targets in the EU, western Russia and north Africa, as well as central and south Asia.

    During his presidency, Clinton allowed Israel to acquire the supercomputers needed to operate these delivery systems.

The papers and TV are full of stories about worries over Iran's deceit and deception regarding its Isfahan nuclear plant. That's justified. But Brennan perceptively noted that the deceit regarding Israel's nuke arsenal continues unabated:

    Israel has been allowed to opt out of the non-proliferation treaty, while acquiring all of these weapons and delivery systems of mass destruction. In February this year Israel was brought into partnership with NATO. However, this does not of itself ensure that the policies Israel adopts are in conformity with the perceived interests of NATO members. Pressure should be brought to bear on Israel to ensure it enters into the NPT and other related treaties, and that Israeli facilities for the production of WMD are inspected by the UN. EU governments should press for a nuclear-free Middle East.

    We should also work to see that Mordechai Vanunu, who brought to the attention of the world the extent of the Israeli WMD, is freed from all restrictions on his liberty and recognised as one of the most important defenders of world peace during the last 50 years.



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