In a move that could signal a major change in US foreign policy, the Obama Administration is reportedly in talks with Egypt and others on the particulars of a non-binding resolution calling for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East.
Though couched in the language of regional disarmament, and though many will likely spin it as a condemnation of Iran’s civilian program, the central nature of talks with Egypt, the Arab League, and the Non-aligned Movement is a tacit acknowledgement of why this resolution is really important, and why it marks a real change in US policy: the Israeli nuclear arsenal.
The only nuclear weapons power in the entire Middle East, Israel’s nuclear arsenal has been one of the worst kept secrets on the planet. Its “official ambiguity” on the stockpile of weapons, one of the world’s largest, has been formally backed by the US for decades, and American presidents have always been loathe to include Israel in any talks of international non-proliferation obligations.
This resolution, non-binding though it may be, could change all that, as it would clearly be an official American condemnation, if not in so many words, of Israel’s undeclared and unsupervised weapons of mass destruction.
Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher even addressed Israel directly when discussing the aims of nuclear arms control in the Middle East, saying that it would likely be dependent on a comprehensive peace plan.
Any actual results from this resolution would likely be slow in coming, but the policy change itself is potentially of enormous significance, as it would strip the Israeli government of its American imprimatur to develop and maintain such a large nuclear arsenal.