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Obama ducks question on Israel's nuclear capability but expresses concern over Iran's nuclear program

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President Barrack Obama’s first press conference (2/9) was dominated by economy issue that was the main objective of the event. Out of 13 questions, 8 were related to economy, while three dealt with foreign policy: Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan’s FATA region. The President’s responses to the issues of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan’s FATA region were very vivid and clear. However, when it came to Israel, though the question was indirect and implicit, his response was ambiguous and dubious.

The White House veteran journalist, Helen Thomas, asked: “Do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?”

Although former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in July 1998 that Israel "built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima but an Oslo," President Obama declined to answer the question by saying:

“With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don't want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger.”

He went on to say: “And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that it's important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this. And you know, I've mentioned this in conversations with the Russian president, Mr. Medvedev, to let him know that it is important for us to restart the conversation, about how we can start reducing our nuclear arsenals in an effective way, so that.”

It is an open secret now that Israel is the world's sixth most powerful nuclear state, with a stockpile of more than 100 nuclear weapons and with the components and ability to build atomic, neutron and hydrogen bombs. (The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control’s Risk Report of July 1996)


The first public revelation of Israel's nuclear capability (as opposed to development program) came in the London based Sunday Times on 5 October 1986, which printed information provided by Mordechai Vanunu, formerly employed at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, a facility located in the Negev desert south of Dimona. After being abducted from Italy, Vanunu was tried in Israel and sentenced to 18 years in prison for treason and espionage. Although there had been much speculation prior to Vanunu's revelations that the Dimona site was creating nuclear weapons, Vanunu's information indicated that Israel had also built thermonuclear weapons. (Wikipedia)


According to the Federation of American Scientists by the late 1990s the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types.


The US had been hypocritical about Iran, approaching it with very different standards than it has for Israel, India or even itself.


The US is seeking to prevent Iran having a uranium enrichment program, even though there is no evidence that it is being used for weapons production. By contrast, the US has never said boo to Israel for having a nuclear weapons program and for manufacturing actual nuclear devices. And Pakistan and India are allies of the US, despite having acquired nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In this matter, double standards abound.


At the same time as it is demanding that Iran abandon uranium enrichment, the US is offering India access to nuclear materials and equipment for the expansion of its nuclear power program. This offer reverses a 30-year old US policy of denying nuclear materials and equipment to India, which was prompted by India’s first nuclear weapons test in 1974. If the deal goes through, India will acquire the status, and the privileges, of a “nuclear-weapon” state like the five official “nuclear weapon” states. This is going to happen, even though India has never signed the NPT and can’t sign it now without giving up its nuclear weapons – which it isn’t going to do.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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