Why, when you speak to Israelis of the IAEA and NPT do they visualize another Holocaust? What would it take to get Israel to accede to the NPT? Is the IAEA effective in promoting nuclear weapons disarmament and non-conventional weapons arms control? If Iran’s nuclear program violates IAEA and NPT agreements – does it? – how does it affect the goal of reaching a Middle East free of nuclear weapons? What are the roles of Pakistan and North Korea in the proliferation of nuclear technology? What can be learned from the Iraqi nuclear weapons program; and who has learned best?
This is a practical guide to Establishing a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in The Middle East. It places special emphasis on a detailed examination of IAEA and NPT verification procedures and ‘modalities’ – the diplomatic jargon for reaching and implementing a complex international agreement.
Download the book here: Establishing a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East. A Practical Guide -
The book takes as its point of departure — and treats it as a fact — that Israel’s enemies and friends believe that Israel possesses a nuclear potential that must be undone in order to establish a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East. Israeli policy is that this can only be achieved with Israel’s full cooperation. That is, assuming Israel cannot be defeated in war, what would it take to get her to agree to a Middle East NWFZ? What practical steps would have to be taken – step by step – to achieve a nuclear weapon free Middle East?
Therefore, how to gain Israel’s cooperation is key. If the belief is that Israel actually possesses a nuclear potential then it follows that it cannot be forced to accede to a NWFZ. It could conceivably be defeated. But then there is the dilemma: how to defeat Israel with that nagging perception of nuclear capability and that irritating ambiguity. Back to cooperation then.
So, what would it take to gain Israeli cooperation for establishing a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East?
In Israel, Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time of national reflection; for many, the Holocaust is still a family nightmare, retold at family gatherings – to remember and strengthen resolve; and as the years pass, for the remaining few it is, still, very much a personal trauma. The Holocaust was a unique historical event. Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel has written: “not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims”. But Israelis are very aware that uniqueness is no guarantee against repetition. Another Nobel Laureate, Saul Bellow, wrote in his memoir To Jerusalem and Back (1976): “And what is it that has led the Jews to place themselves, after the greatest disaster of their history, in a danger zone? A Jewish professor at Harvard recently said to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be the most horrible of ironies if the Jews had collected themselves conveniently in one country for a second Holocaust?’”
The thought passes through every Israeli’s mind. But Israelis are a practical nation. They look at history, not just their own. The following is a non-exhaustive list of countries in which acts of genocide were committed since the Holocaust and that the international community failed to prevent: Cambodia, East Timor, Sudan, Rwanda, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo and now Darfur.
When Kuwait was invaded by Iraq in 1990 it took the international community six months to muster a large enough force to push the Iraqis back.
Israelis are not willing to trust their protection to the international community; neither would they be willing to wait for the international community to act in their defense, even if they were disposed to trust them with it. The Holocaust was a unique event in human history, but since then there have been more acts of genocide.
It is because Israelis take threats against them seriously that they take seriously the question of how to reach the goal of a NWFZ.
This ‘practical guide’ is therefore an attempt to go beyond the usual non-proliferation and IAEA slogans. It was written in 1992, when I was a student of Shalheveth Freier, then the retired Head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission; but it is no less timely or pertinent now than it was then.
Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose.