For Immediate Release


Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Israel's Nukes

WASHINGTON - A nuclear conference of over 40 countries begins today in Washington, D.C. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to attend, but canceled on Friday.

Steinbach wrote the paper "Israel's Nuclear Arsenal: Implications for the Middle East and the World."

He said today: "It's unfortunate that the administration has not invited Iran, North Korea and Syria to this conference, since it's largely supposed to be about preventing groups from getting nuclear material and the U.S. government has accused each of those countries in one way or another of at least being lax on the subject.

"We'll likely never know the real reason for Netanyahu not coming to the conference, but one reason might be that the U.S. is saying it wants a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty and Israel is on record as being against such a treaty. Israel has the most opaque nuclear weapons program -- estimates range from 80 to 500 nuclear weapons. Regardless of the size of its nuclear arsenal, Israel has enough sophisticated nuclear weapons and the delivery system to destroy every country in the Mideast and southwest Asia.

"Contrary to what many are claiming, both Egypt and Turkey have stated that they had no plans to raise the subject of Israel's nuclear weapons at this conference in Washington, though many nations are sure to raise the subject at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] review conference in New York beginning May 1. It's clearly Obama's goal to come out of that conference focusing on Iran. The last NPT review conference ended in chaos when participating nations couldn't even agree on an agenda.

"Israel and the U.S. have had this so-called 'nuclear ambiguity' agreement since Nixon and [Israeli Prime Minister Golda] Meir, which continues to this day -- Obama was asked about Israel's nuclear weapons by Helen Thomas and he refused to answer."

Background: See the following recent interview with Helen Thomas, which includes video of her asking Obama about Mideast nuclear weapons at his first presidential news conference. Obama states he does not want to "speculate" if any nation in the Mideast has nuclear weapons. Thomas has not been called on by Obama since then. She states in this interview that if she is called on "I want to ask him if he ever found out whether anyone in the Middle East has nuclear weapons" but that she "doubts" she will be called upon again.

Steinbach will present his paper "Israel's Nuclear Arsenal: Implications for the Middle East and the World" on Wednesday at the Institute for Policy Studies.


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