Everybody knows Israel has nuclear weapons. But because it has never officially either confirmed or denied having them, supporting nations allow themselves the convenient fiction of not officially knowing that Israel developed those weapons and continues to hold them outwith the NPT under conditions of secrecy far worse than those levelled at Iran.
However, in their zeal to pursue a deal with the U.S. akin to the one Bush and Congress handed that other NPT non-complier, India, the Israelis have shot themselves in the foot somewhat.
VIENNA, Austria - Israel is looking to a U.S.-India nuclear deal to expand its own ties to suppliers, quietly lobbying for an exemption to non-proliferation rules so it can legally import atomic material, according to documents made available Tuesday to The Associated Press.How could Israel promise to apply "stringent physical protection, control, and accountancy measures to all nuclear weapons ... in its territory" in pursuit of such a deal if it didn't have any such weapons? Either you will believe that Israel is only saying this to help its pals in Pakistan and India (the other two non-NPT nuclear states) out of the goodness of its own heart...OK, done laughing?...or you will see this as an admission of possession.
The new push is reflected in papers Israel presented earlier this year to the "Nuclear Suppliers' Group" — 45 nations that export nuclear fuel and technology under strict rules meant to lessen the dangers of proliferation and trafficking in materials that could be used for a weapons program.
The initiative appeared to be linked to a U.S.-India agreement that would effectively waive the group's rules by allowing the United States to supply India with nuclear fuel despite its refusal both to sign the nonproliferation treaty and allowing the IAEA to inspect all of its nuclear facilities.
...Under a cover letter labeled "confidential," the two papers were circulated among the group March 19 by Japan, whose mission to Vienna's International Atomic Energy Agency serves as the liaison office for the group.
...In the paper proposing a list of criteria to be used by NSG countries for "Nuclear Collaboration with non-NPT States," Israel inadvertently appeared to touch on the debate over its own status, saying one condition should be application of "stringent physical protection, control, and accountancy measures to all nuclear weapons ... in its territory."
The other document urges "the international community at large and NSG Member States in particular" to cooperate "with non-NPT states with strong non-proliferation credentials" in the "supply of (nuclear) know-how and equipment."
Despite close U.S.-Israeli ties, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns appeared to rule out special treatment for the Jewish state, telling reporters earlier this year that NSG countries needed to know the deal with India "won't be a precedent to bring other countries in under the same basis."
But Daryl Kimball, an analyst and executive director of the Arms Control Association, said that — even if unsuccessful — any attempt by Israel to move closer to nations exporting sensitive nuclear technology and material that could potentially be turned into fissile material for warheads would alarm many in the Middle East.
"There is a great deal of tensions between non-nuclear (Arab) weapons states and Israel, and the mere existence of this proposal would exacerbate ... the Middle East situation," he said from Washington.
And despite U.S. assurances, "Israel's proposal illustrates the danger of making exemptions for individual countries from nonproliferation rules and standards," he said.
The most recent tensions over Israel's nuclear capabilities surfaced at the IAEA's 148-nation general conference. On Thursday, the Vienna meeting's penultimate day, only the U.S. and Israel voted against a critical resolution implicitly aimed at the Jewish State for refusing to put its nuclear program under international purview.
Israel should submit to inspections by the IAEA, and the US should stop covering for an illegal nuclear state.