The Obama administration is departing from decades-old bipartisan American policy on Israel's nuclear arsenal. Democratic and Republican presidents have refused to pressure (or even suggest) that Israel sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Obama is changing that. I covered the implications of this development yesterday. Eli Lake contends in the Washington Times today that the push by Barack Obama would put in jeopardy a secret US-Israel accord.
Clearly another gambit to pressure our ally, Israel. While she faces a genocidal threat, Obama cuts missile defense programs and is working to coerce Israel into signing a treaty that would result in pressure on her to relinquish her rumored nuclear arsenal. All the while, she faces the prospects of Iran developing nuclear weapons to fulfill its oft-stated dream of destroying Israel.
President Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists say.
Avner Cohen, author of "Israel and the Bomb" and the leading expert outside the Israeli government on the history of Israel's nuclear program, said Mr. Obama's "upcoming meeting with Netanyahu, due to the impending discussions with Iran, will be a platform for Israel to ask for reassurances that old understandings on the nuclear issue are still valid."
For the past 40 years, Israel and the U.S. have kept quiet about an Israeli nuclear arsenal that is now estimated at 80 to 200 weapons. Israel has promised not to test nuclear weapons while the U.S. has not pressed Israel to sign the nuclear NPT, which permits only five countries - the U.S., France, Britain, China and Russia - to have nuclear arms.
The U.S. also has opposed most regional calls for a "nuclear-free Middle East." The accord was forged at a summit between Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Nixon on Sept. 25, 1969, according to recently released documents, but remains so secret that there is no explicit record of it. Mr. Cohen has referred to the deal as "don't ask, don't tell," because it commits both the U.S. and Israel never to acknowledge in public Israels nuclear arsenal.
When asked what the Obama administration's position was on the 1969 understanding, the senior White House official offered no comment.
Even Stephen Walt did not suggest such a devious, backstabbing step to pressure Israel. That unwavering support for Israel that Obama promised during the campaign (and that his supporters vouched for) seems to be wavering more than a bit. And this after only a hundred plus days.