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US Kneejerk Support for Israeli Nukes Torpedoes UN Disarmament Talks

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

After four weeks of negotiations, a revised UN treaty on nuclear disarmament has been torpedoed by the United States, leaving the issue of global disarmament dead in the water for the next five years. Non-nuclear states are furious at Washington and also fearful that in the absence of an agreement, nuclear proliferation will now march on. Moreover, they are upset at the slow pace of reduction of numbers of nuclear weapons by nuclear-armed states such as the US and Russia.

The US vetoed the document because it contained a clause requiring Israel to meet with Arab neighbors and to participate in talks leading to the making of the Middle East a nuclear free zone. Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a substantial nuclear arsenal, which it hides in plain sight by refusing to talk about it. UN-mandated negotiations with Egypt and other Arab states could have forced Israel to admit its nuclear stockpile and begin reducing it.

The US tried to make it look like the revised treaty’s demise was Egypt’s fault, since that country had put in the clause concerning Israeli nukes.
But it is perfectly understandable that Egypt wants a nuclear arms-free zone in the Middle East.

In running interference for Israel’s estimated 400 warheads, the US has made the world a more dangerous place. It has sacrificed a general revision of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty for the sake of protecting Tel Aviv’s nukes– which are themselves driving the Middle East arms race.

Egypt warned that the Arab world would take strong stances as a result of the US veto. There are rumors that Saudi Arabia is threatened by Israeli and Iranian nuclear programs and may go for broke to try to acquire at least a breakout capacity, itself.

Guess which country has requested further meetings at the UN in hopes of reviving the revised NPT? Iran.


© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

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