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Jan-02-2011 15:50printcomments

Israel's Nuclear Ambiguity

Exploring the myths of Iran's nukes and the hidden realities of Israel's.

Israel nukes

(TEHRAN / LONDON / LOS ANGELES / MARF) - Tel Aviv has a position of ambiguity when it comes to its nuclear program, although the UK and former Israeli technician Mordechai Vanunu have made it clear that Israel has a large nuclear arsenal. Many are familiar with the reports on from Eileen Fleming who has traveled to the Mideast seven times, and is the only American who has repeatedly interviewed Vanunu in person.

Press TV interviewed American Political Commentator, James Morris, Independent US Journalist Dahr Jamail and British Journalist Richard Millet regarding Israel's nuclear program and the potential dangers it could pose. The following is a rush transcript:

Press TV: Let's get more now from James Morris, Political Commentator in Los Angeles, Richard Millet, a British Journalist in London and Independent Journalist, Dahr Jamail is joining us on the line from Texas. I'd like to start with James Morris. James, the documents are talking about a nuclear attack by Israel not the possession of nuclear weapons. Why do the US and the UK act as if they don't know Israel has a nuclear arsenal?

Morris: Well, thank you for having me back on Press TV and a Happy New Year to all your viewers around the world. You have a situation where you can look at Barack Obama in his first press conference I believe with Helen Thomas. She asked which country in the Middle East possesses nuclear weapons, and Barack Obama couldn't even answer that straight forward. The problem we have in America is we have a very strong pro-Israel lobby, APAIC the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, and the Neo-Conservatives who basically have the Republican Party in their grasp. We just don't address that issue. It's a blatant double standard. The rest of the world sees it and any American in the know sees it. Here we are demanding that Iran gives up its peaceful nuclear program, which is in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel is basically giving the orders through AIPAC and its lobby in America. It is unacceptable.

Press TV: Mr. Millet in London, we are talking about those documents that raise concern about Israel using those weapons. What if it does feel that its existence is under threat, can we be sure it won't use nuclear weapons?

Millet: Happy New year. I think that there is no doubt that this document, which is 30 years old, and Israel has never used nuclear weapons since then. And if you think about it logically, why would Israel want to attack an Arab country where reprisals could come back on Israel. It is an absurd idea that Israel would ever want to use nuclear weapons. I think Israel's main problem at the moment is not fighting against another Arab country. This document was written at a time when Israel just made peace with Egypt. I think the problem Israel has now is fighting terrorist organizations on the periphery on the edge of Israel such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which are mainly supported and financed by Iran. Israel has to fight these organizations and take into account the civilians Hezbollah and Hamas are fighting from within, and try to limit the damage to those civilians. Hamas and Hezbollah don't seem to be too concerned about its own civilians suffering the consequences of their own attacks; Hamas and Hezbollah attacks on Israel.

Press TV: Speaking of the threats that are posed by Israel and threats that are posed to Israel Mr. Millet was speaking there. I want to bring in Dahr Jamil on the line from Texas. What do you think? How big of a threat is Israel? It is the one with the nuclear weapons, and its enemies don't have nuclear weapons have they?

Jamail: That's correct. Specifically when we look at the threat of nuclear weapons there's clearly a massive imbalance in the Middle East. Israel is without a doubt the only nuclear-armed country. Iran for example is still quite a ways off from obtaining a nuclear weapon if that is indeed their agenda. I think ideally of course Israel would sign on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and start to eliminate their nuclear weapons, and I think that would be in the interest of real security for the government and people of Israel; thus, to have a balance of power and to have a non-nuclear region. Of course we have the opposite and as James articulated so clearly we have a US government that whole heartedly backs everything Israel does rather it's the nuclear program or the proliferation of illegal settlements. This is going down a long list and the situation with the President of the United States along with any other person in the Senate or Congress when questioned directly about Israel and their nuclear program will literally not talk about it what so ever. Or they will flatly deny that it even exists. It's a really amazing situation, but one thing to keep in mind when we look at the security of the region, is that there has been one consistent country which has been aggressive and regularly violating international law, and launching attacks on civilian populations in other countries consistently over the years. That is Israel.

Press TV: James, the documents show that Britain new about this; the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons 30 years back. It has been an open secret for the world as well. What has been done to curb the threat? We just heard from Mr. Jamil and he was saying that Israel hasn't signed the NPT and Israel doesn't seem to be willing to sign the NPT. What has been done to curb this threat by the world?

Morris: No, nothing has been done. You have the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is now the Foreign Minister for Australia. I think the Wikileaks have revealed that even Australia's situation with Iran is that Australia doesn't see Iran has a threat whatsoever in regards to nuclear weapons, and we don't have any credible evidence that Iran even has a nuclear weapon. It has been pursuing nuclear power peacefully into the Israelis come up with something to give to America to basically persuade the Neo-Con and Pro-Israel biased media to go along with war with Iran. It's just propaganda that I've seen so far. Even the Australian government doesn't think Iran is a threat to the region with any nuclear weapons that it might have. And again we don't have any evidence that they even have any. So this is just Zionist propaganda coming from the likes of your guest in England. And he talks about how Hezbollah and Hamas have killed innocent civilians. Why don't we talk about the bombing of Gaza in 2008 and 2009 when Barack Obama was even silent about that as he was coming into office? He talked a good game in Cairo but then again he was at the AIPAC conference earlier saying that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital in Israel. He supports the Pro-Israeli lobby in America as well. How many civilians were also killed in Lebanon I'd like to ask Mr. Millet by Israel? Israel tries to convey that it's the most morale army in the world through their propaganda. We also have the Israeli military historian, Martin Van Creveld, who even threatened European cities with nuclear annihilation.

He is an Israeli military historian. How many times have we seen Iran threaten European cities like that like Israel has? We also should bring in the USS Liberty attack and how Israel deliberately attacked an American ship, killing 34 sailors and wounding 174. That could have brought us into a nuclear war with Russia. Israel is just a threat to peace in the entire region, and America backs Israel to the hilt. There is no benefit for America out of that. We should be making peace with our Arab Muslim neighbors with regards to whom we do business with, with oil and such. And lastly what about the 73 Yom Kippur War when even Seymour Hersh had said Israel was threatening to take the whole world down with them? You also have Tom Clancy, the writer, who said talked about Israel in 1973. So that is a load of rubbish coming from your guest saying that Israel has never threatened to use its nukes. It most certainly has.

Press TV: Let's let Richard respond to this. Richard, before you do that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in July that secret documents confirm the US will being transferring nuclear fuel to Israel. Now that's in violation of the NPT that forbids Washington as a member state from supplying nuclear material to a non-signatory like Israel. Isn't this encouraging proliferation rather than fighting a nuclear threat speaking of what the world has done to curb the nuclear threat?

Millet: I don't know exactly about that report, but Israel had obligations to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Countries like Iran are part of that treaty. All the evidence points towards Iran trying to obtain a nuclear bomb, and not only is it looking for the means but it also has a declared intention. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be wiped off the map. Mr. Morris talked about Wikileaks, but we also know from Wikileaks that the Arab world was united in urging for there to be an attack on Iran because the Arab countries who are far closer to the situation, and have much more to lose than Australia, know the situation clearly and feel that Iran is a major threat to the situation.

Press TV: So if we could just focus on the question, as the program is about Israel's nukes and this threat. So do you believe in your remarks that there is no need for Israel to sign the NPT? Is that what you're saying?

Millet: As I was saying, the problem Israel has is with Hamas and Hezbollah. There is no way Israel would ever drop a nuclear bomb on sovereign Lebanon or on Gaza. It would not drop a nuclear bomb in any circumstance unless it might potentially have a nuclear bomb dropped on it. The only way that could happen is the threat that it's now under as I've just mentioned. It has to do with the local situation unfortunately with Hamas and Hezbollah and fighting Hamas and Hezbollah. As your previous guest Mr. Morris did mention the attack on Hamas, but what he also failed to mention was the 8,000 rockets that hit Israeli towns and killing innocent Israelis and obviously that doesn't' concern him at all and I would like to remind him that they were also Christian Arabs that he should be wanting to make peace with not just Muslim Arabs.

PressTV: Do you think that justifies the US supporting Israel's nuclear program according to the classified documents?

Dahr Jamail: It's clearly a violation of the treaty, let's just start there. I want to address this amazing double standard as to why should it be that Israel should be allowed to have nuclear power and nuclear weapons, but no other country in the region, whether it be Iran or Saudi Arabia or any other country in the region, should not be allowed to have the same, but specifically since we're talking about Iran; I think either nobody should have access to nuclear power or nuclear weapons or everyone should because that's the only way we're going to have a balance of power and real security.

As long as this gross imbalance of power persists with Israel being the only nuclear armed country in the region; Israel having one of the largest militaries on the planet; the largest fleet of F16s outside of the United Stated of America. Consistently over the years being the one main aggressor in the region that it was Hamas who was abiding to the peace pact with Israel up to the outbreak of violence in late 2008 when Israel decided to launch a full scale attack on Gaza. Consistently the person that provoked the violence has not been Hamas; has not been Hezbollah typically, more often than not in nine out of ten cases it has been Israel.

One thing I want to point out if the guest in London is going to consistently demonize Hezbollah and Hamas for putting in danger civilian populations and disregarding life - I personally reported on the war in Lebanon in 2006 and consistently saw Israeli policy backed by the US and going into villages saying “you need to leave we're going to arm Hezbollah targets in this village”, and then when people packed up and started to leave in buses and vans, flying pillowcases as surrender flags out the windows, those vehicles were intentionally targeted by Israel and this did not happen one time, this was blanket policy I saw repeatedly across South Lebanon; of course white phosphorus being used in civilian areas and of course we have the bombing of Karha killing dozens and dozens of civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly; deliberate targeting of red cross and red crescent ambulances that were trying to reach the scene at Karha. These were just a few examples of I saw just in that war, but we can't logically demonize the policies of Hezbollah and Hamas and completely disregard Israel's policies that have killed far more civilians over the years and have shown a far more blatant disregard for the security and well-being of civilians in nearby areas.

PressTV: A lot of this goes back to what a lot of people are saying, the special relationship between the US and Israel, which allows Israel to do a lot of what it is doing right now. I would like to go to James now, I was reading an article that quoted Time magazine back in 1952 and how it openly criticized the US for supporting Israel's creation at “the cost of Arabs” and failing to take “the slightest responsibility”. It surprises you when you compare that language to the current mainstream US media. How does the special relationship between the US and Israel affect the media in the west when it comes to Israel and its actions?

James Morris: Take a look at AIPAC's influence on the US government and not just AIPAC there are other tentacles of the lobby - the Israel project, the neoconservatives who pushed us into a war in Iraq, which was for Israel as well. The US media is in the tank for the Israel lobby as well - you've got operatives in that media, producers and the like who are very pro-Israel and then you also have the intimidation factor. If anybody is critical of Israel in that media, they lose their position, look at Rick Sanchez; let's go back to the attack on Gaza when he actually had the courage on CNN to convey that it was actually Israel that initiated that war. Mr. Millett tries to say that these rockets coming over from Gaza are such a threat to Israel, I'd like to ask him - How many Israeli's have died as a result of those rockets, and if he had his land taken like the Palestinians have continually had their lands stolen, I'm sure he'd be fighting back, too.

The bottom line is yes the American media is in the tank for Israel; there's no doubt about it - you can look at the email exchanges that I've had with General Petraeus, which you had General Petraeus conveying to congress that American support for Israel is a strategic threat and we have to address that with regards to the Palestinian Israeli conflict and not one media entity in America covered that; when he said this before congress.

And then you have the neoconservative, Max Boot who played a role in pushing us into Iraq in a war for Israel who's advising General Petraeus in Afghanistan and we see this hardcore militaristic policy in a quagmire there, yet there's no reporting on that.

Similarly, Press TV, the only media channel here and perhaps Al Jazeera English and maybe Russia today, who will report about the 1980s revelation about Israel threatening to use nuclear weapons.

Let me just address a couple of points if I may with regard to what Mr. Millett had said. He talked about the Arab leaders pushing for (air) strikes in Iran - How popular are those corrupt officials and leaders of those Arab countries? Would you say that their opinions, that were cowardly expressed privately through these Wikileaks cables, are reflected by the populations of their respective countries. I don't think so. Of course those Arab leaders are in the tank for America because they're selling a lot of oil to America, they're making a lot of profit. How much did they do to help the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and in the West Bank?

PressTV: Richard, Israel's wars in Lebanon in Gaza, the flotilla attack, and now its insistence to expand settlements, which are termed as illegal by the UN and even the US - How much is this really helping Israel win the trust of the world's public opinion and the American public opinion?

Richard Millett: Well I think a lot of what you've just said and what Mr. Morris just said is inaccurate. America doesn't view the settlements as illegal - if you look at the law properly they are not illegal. There are ways to fight back and there are ways to resist, but the way Hamas does is putting bomb vests on Palestinians and sending them into Israeli cafes and Israeli discotheques and blowing themselves and as many as Israeli innocent civilians up as possible. That is the way Hamas resists and that is the way Hezbollah resists if you'd like to call resisting; they target innocent people, they don't target the Israeli military, they target the Israeli civilians who are out to play out to lunch going out to a night club, I don't see any denunciations coming from either of your guests of those tactics by Hamas or Hezbollah, which is absolutely unbelievable, but it's something I've come to expect.

If you talk about America being pro-Israel, well yes, I guess it is because most Americans identify with Israel, but if your guests would like to Europe specifically to Britain they would find a far different attitude to what is in existence in America so the two forces are actually balancing themselves out.

Stranger than fiction Order Now

PressTV: Dahr, when it was trying to pressure Israel to stop settlements, the US came up with economic concessions. Israel rejected even a three-month temporary freeze, Richard there referring to this settlements issue - when it comes to the US Israel relations, who is really calling the shots؟

Dahr Jamail: Clearly It is Israel and consistently every year for now a decade more than two decades straight, every year it comes up for vote in the UN about the legitimacy of the settlements and what needs to be done and every single year the US vetoes the more than 100 other countries who consistently vote for international law to be respected and enforced when it comes to the settlements; they are a clear violation of international law, this is not opinion, I want to cite specific international law and to the guest in London I'm sorry, but it doesn't seem like you're really living in reality when we talk about who is responsible for more civilian deaths - again I'll just cite the war in Lebanon in 2006, in that war more than 1300 Lebanese civilians were killed and less than 200 Hezbollah fighters. Conversely in Israel while certainly it's a tragic loss and a crime that Israeli civilians get killed, it was more than 100 Israeli soldiers that were killed and less than 100 Israeli civilians. So just looking at the hard statistics using Hezbollah and the war in Lebanon as example clearly Israel has done a far poorer job in respecting civilian casualties and I think the same can be said when we talk about Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank.

If the video fails to play, please click the link below it and watch the program on Press TV.

Special thanks to Press TV

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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michael May 20, 2011 6:30 am (Pacific time)

Independent Journalist- You may take an interview from Hitler - would be same comments. Who wants monkey with nuclear baton?

eileen fleming January 2, 2011 4:37 pm (Pacific time)

On July 23, 2010, the National Archives and Records Administration released declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States.

Grant F. Smith, director of Institute for Research on Middle Eastern policy stated, “It is frightening how easily some in the American news media surrendered to a foreign public relations campaign that spent the 2010 equivalent of $36 million over two years. Time has proven most of the planted content to be misleading, if not dangerous. These historical documents hold many important lessons for Americans who have long needed—but rarely received—straight reporting on key Middle East issues.”

The subpoenaed documents expose Israel's clandestine programs for “cultivation of editors” and the “placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines” as well as directly influencing U.S. reporting regarding the Dimona WMD facility, as “most of the press seemed to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs.”

I was not a reporter when I met Vanunu in 2005. But, I knew I had to become one after he said:

“Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’

“Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection. The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out. Everything inside was written in French, when I was there.

“Back then; the Dimona descended seven floors underground. In 1955, Perez and Guirion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai, but the reactor plant deal continued on. Kennedy demanded inspections. When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them. Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production.

"In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.

“The only way to peace is peace; the only way is nonviolence. The only answer to Israeli nuclear weapons, their aggression, occupation and oppression, and the wall and refugee camps is to answer them with truth and a peaceful voice. When I became the spy for the world, I did it all for the people of the world. If governments do not report the truth, and if the media does not report the truth, then all we can do is follow our consciences. Daniel Ellsberg did, the woman from Enron did, and I did.”

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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