Yesterday’s comments by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, suggesting that the Obama Administration would like every nation, including Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) came as a considerable shock to the Middle Eastern nation, which has for the past 40 years kept its nuclear arsenal one of the most poorly-kept secrets in the world.
Israeli officials dismissed the call, citing Iran’s membership in the NPT as proof that the pact is not “a miracle cure for the world’s ills.” The Israeli Foreign Minister has reportedly contacted the US for confirmation, unwilling to believe that a US officials could possibly suggest they should be a party to the non-proliferation agreement.
Yet it seems to be an accurate statement from the administration, and should provide interesting fodder for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s US visit later this month, and could imperil the long-standing secret deal between the two nations to keep Israel’s arsenal a secret.
The deal dates to 1969, when President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir met. At the behest of National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, Nixon agreed to keep the Israeli arsenal “from becoming an established international fact.” It has remained US policy ever since, sort of a running joke as US and Israeli officials are forever accidentally confirming the weapons.
Entering the NPT would place Israel’s nuclear arsenal under direct international scrutiny for the first time since its creation. Coming clean with its own decades of nuclear activities may also undermine its demands to crack down on the Iranian government, which by all accounts seems to be respecting the deal.