A serious omission in a Financial Times article
*Dr David Lowry (right) referred to a recent article about Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation on Iran’s alleged covert nuclear weapons programme.
He pointed out that Mr Netanyahu made no mention of Israel’s (undeclared) status as a nuclear-armed state (“‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display” New York Times, 2017).
(Ed: the Federation of American Scientists gave details of its 200 operational nuclear weapons and American U-2 planes’ 1958 confirmed the existence of Israel’s Dimona nuclear complex, located in the Negev desert. The U.S. inspected Israeli nuclear sites in the 1960s but their searches were highly restricted.)
The US issued a working paper in April this year to the preparatory committee for the review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) in Geneva
The seven-page paper asserts: “Over the course of recent decades, a number of regional states, including Iraq, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Libya and the Syrian Arab Republic, have all pursued undeclared weapons of mass destruction-related programs and activities, in violation of arms control obligation.”
The paper does not mention Israel, the only nation in the region possessing nuclear weapons and which refuses to join the NPT.
The Trump administration has argued that a regional WMD-free zone would be better achieved outside the auspices of the NPT.
Such an initiative was floated nearly 10 years ago in a Paris Summit of the Union of Mediterranean countries under the co-presidency of France and Egypt and in the presence of Israel, represented by then PM Ehud Olmert, a signatory.
The parties shall pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems
It concluded by supporting “regional security by acting in favor of nuclear, chemical and biological non-proliferation through adherence to and compliance with a combination of international and regional non-proliferation regimes and arms control and disarmament agreements . . . ” and added: “The parties shall pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems.” (www.consilium.europa.eu, 2008)
Dr Lowry ends by endorsing this agreement as one on which all parties, Iran included, could build constructively.
* Dr David Lowry acted as policy adviser and researcher for former UK environment minister Michael Meacher MP when he was shadow Secretary of State for Environmental Protection. He is now Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, MA, US. Note his information-packed blog: http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/
In violation of his non-disclosure agreement, Vanunu revealed to the Sunday Times his knowledge of the Israeli nuclear programme, including the photographs he had secretly taken at the Dimona site. The Sunday Times was wary of being duped, especially in light of the recent Hitler Diaries hoax. As a result, the newspaper insisted on verifying Vanunu’s story with leading nuclear weapon experts, including former U.S. nuclear weapons designer Theodore Taylor and former British AWE engineer Frank Barnaby, who agreed that Vanunu’s story was factual and correct. In addition, a reporter, Max Prangnell, was sent to Israel to find people who knew Vanunu and verify his story. Prangnell verified Vanunu’s backstory, meeting a few people at Ben-Gurion University who identified Vanunu from a photograph, as well as meeting neighbors and others who confirmed he had worked at the Dimona nuclear plant. Vanunu gave detailed descriptions of lithium-6 separation required for the production of tritium, an essential ingredient of fusion-boosted fission bombs. While both experts concluded that Israel might be making such single-stage boosted bombs, Vanunu, whose work experience was limited to material (not component) production, gave no specific evidence that Israel was making two-stage thermonuclear bombs, such as neutron bombs. Vanunu described the plutonium processing used, giving a production rate of about 30 kg per year, and stated that Israel used about 4 kg per weapon. From this information it was possible to estimate that Israel had sufficient plutonium for about 150 nuclear weapons.