Overall, the New York Times praises President Barack Obama's revised policy on when to launch nuclear attacks, though agreeing with some critics that it was a mistake to continue brandishing nukes at Iran, the only non-nuclear-armed state still being threatened.
"It would have been better if Mr. Obama made the "sole' purpose of nuclear weapons deterring a nuclear attack," the Times wrote in a lead editorial on Wednesday. "No one in their right mind can imagine the United States ever using a nuclear weapon again. "
"But any loophole undercuts Washington's arguments that nonnuclear states have no strategic reason to develop their own arms."
Exactly. So why did Obama carve out a special exception intended for Iran, claiming that any nation not "compliant" with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty -- even one without nuclear weapons -- can be targeted for nuclear annihilation by the United States?
Though Iran is an NPT signatory and asserts that it wants to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes only, Obama's position is that since Iran arguably violated some technical provisions of the treaty, it is not "compliant" and thus open to U.S. nuclear attack.
The chief violation that the United States has cited is Iran's failure to disclose the Qum nuclear reactor before construction began. Instead, Iran announced the existence of the facility last September while construction was underway but before it was operational.
The technical and debatable nature of this violation, however, suggests that Obama's pledge not to nuke non-nuclear-armed states may not mean much. It's likely that any country with a nuclear energy program could be found to be in some such "non-compliance."
The Times suggests that Obama included the caveat mostly "to deter hard-line critics on Capitol Hill" who want to get even tougher with Iran. There may be some truth to that as well as suspicions that Obama was bowing to pressure from his hard-line secretaries of State and Defense but there is also the Great Unmentionable, Israel.
Typically, U.S. presidents -- and the New York Times -- seem incapable of acknowledging that Israel is possibly the world's most egregious violator of international non-proliferation regimens, not only having refused to sign the NPT but having amassed the largest undeclared nuclear arsenal on earth.
Yet, Israeli officials have remained coy about whether they have nukes, though there is no doubt that they do, most likely several hundred.
Not only have Israeli leaders refused to declare their nuclear arsenal and have harshly punished whistleblowers who have spoken up but U.S. presidents have fallen in line, too, playing along with the charade. [For a brief history of the Israeli nuclear program, click here.]
To a great extent, major U.S. news outlets like the New York Times have joined the game as well, avoiding references to Israeli nuclear bombs even when that reality is relevant to a larger discussion of Middle East security.
But this conspiracy of silence has another downside. It makes the United States and its major news media appear to the rest of the world hopelessly hypocritical, an albatross that Obama has just wrapped around his own neck.
By leaving non-nuclear Iran open to obliteration because it was tardy in announcing a reactor that isn't operational while giving a permanent pass to Israel on a vast nuclear arsenal, Obama devastates his own credibility.
It's also well known that the U.S. government looked the other way when Pakistan and India refused to sign the NPT and built nuclear bombs in secret. In addition, Pakistani scientists sold nuclear secrets to other countries.
But those three rogue nuclear states Israel, India and Pakistan aren't even mentioned in Obama's Nuclear Posture Review released on Tuesday.