Friday, February 20, 2009

Timely exchanges on Iran's nuclear program

Comments on the widely read piece: "How to Deal with Iran"

Victor Gilinsky, one of the world's leading authorities on nuclear proliferation touches what he calls the "third rail," namely Israeli nukes.

"They [Luers, Pickering and Walsh] make the point that in negotiating with Iran everything should be on the table. What about putting Israel's nuclear weapons on the negotiating table? An immediate objection is that Israel hasn't even said it has them and, anyhow, who are we to put Israel's nuclear weapons on the table? But it is silly to continue with Israel's pretense, and the reality is that if we put them on the negotiating table, they are on the table. There are of course lots of other objections including Israeli intransigence, though once involved in negotiations they may see their security interests differently. Ultimately, is there any realistic alternative to nuclear weapons spread in the Middle East, not only to Iran but to Arab countries, other than a nuclear-free Middle East?"

One of the truly astounding aspects of the debate over Iran's nuclear program is the absence of any discussion of the Israeli arsenal, which Washington sources usually put at 300 or more nuclear weapons. As I noted here in 1995, some of the drum-beaters about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East even dismiss the idea that Israel's weapons might be a factor. Gilinsky suggests that the U.S. put the Israeli arsenal on the table, appropriately.

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