Israel’s nuclear arsenal is used to coerce the US on Middle East policy

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The other day the Washington Post’s ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, published a brave column asking, What about Israel’s nuclear weapons? Pexton wondered why there is such a bar on addressing the arsenal in our press. Grant Smith, of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, explains the ramifications of this blackout in a letter he sent to Pexton:

Israel’s nuclear arsenal is primarily used to coerce the United States to provide enough benefits that they will never have to be used.  If the Washington Post chose to better serve its readers, this analysis would become an integral part of the Iran crisis story.

For instance, Smith has written, Israel’s nuclear program, and the secrecy surrounding it, have allowed Israel to avoid making any deals with the Palestinians to end the conflict. And I have long maintained that Obama caved on the settlements issue because Israel presented him with far bigger fish to fry: they were threatening to attack Iran, and that’s the last thing Obama wanted.

Smith’s letter to Pexton, which he shared with us:

Dear Mr. Pexton,

Information about the Israeli nuclear weapons program is emerging at a quicker pace.   For instance, as noted by one of your commenters, my organization obtained FBI documents showing that a younger Benjamin Netanyahu was personally involved in a smuggling ring that obtained nuclear triggers from the United States.  This story was broken by on the Fourth of July.

The implications of this single revelation are enormous, and both the New York Times and Washington Post received copies of key documents.  However, not surprising to anyone who works in alternative media, only the Israeli press has expressed any interest.

As understood by the CIA back in the early 1960s, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is primarily used to coerce the United States to provide enough benefits that they will never have to be used.  If the Washington Post chose to better serve its readers, this analysis would become an integral part of the Iran crisis story.  The ongoing clandestine movement of material and technology out of the U.S. may mean America has violated Article 1 of the NNPT, since according to the GAO it has never apparently taken successful efforts to stem the flow.  Also, through declassified documents about nuclear espionage and funding, the story of how the Weizmann Institute for Science has long funded Israel’s nuclear weapons research program from U.S. donors is now available to alternative press readers.  

Currently, a significant number of documents about the Israeli nuclear weapons program are moving out of presidential libraries and into the ISCAP [Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel] for review.  Not a single one of these long term declassification and release efforts is being driven by an establishment news organization.  The general feeling among many is that the news conglomerates are now too much a part of the Israel lobby or cheering section to do any useful, relevant reporting on such a timely and important topic.  The Washington Post in particular seems to want to play a role in shoring up the decrepit policy of “strategic ambiguity” than enlighten readers about the true role of Israel’s arsenal in US and Iranian relations. 

Grant Smith

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10 Responses

  1. Krauss
    September 3, 2012, 12:50 pm

    The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on Friday citing language used in Israel media reports. (“Is Dempsey Goading Israel to Attack Iran”). Today Jeffrey Goldberg picked up the very same meme, without agreeing- yet- with its thesis.

    This is how it works. It’s the Zionist echo chamber.

    There’s a meme and everyone follows on it.

    Here’s Chemi Chalev in Haaretz(!) doing the same hasbara work:

  2. flyod
    September 3, 2012, 12:57 pm

    great work by grant smith as usual.
    here’s pexton making excuses;
    “Because Israel has not signed the treaty, it is under no legal obligation to submit its major nuclear facility at Dimona to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. Iran, in contrast, did sign the treaty and thus agrees to periodic inspections. IAEA inspectors are regularly in Iran, but the core of the current dispute is that Tehran is not letting them have unfettered access to all of the country’s nuclear installations.”
    iran’s mistake then was to play by the rules. should have just gone rogue like israel …

  3. American
    September 3, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Gotta call Israel’s bluff sometime.
    And if it’s not a bluff, oh well, better now than later, when we have little left to cope with it.
    Let’s get it over with.

  4. American
    September 3, 2012, 1:23 pm

    Let’s watch and see if Germany backs down on the Egyptian sub sale.

    Egypt: Our Submarines Are None of Israel’s Business
    Reports Say Israel Pressing Germany to Scrap Deal

  5. lareineblanche
    September 3, 2012, 3:13 pm

    Yes, and if true, I’m sure many Israelis consider this particular leverage over the US to be one of the crown jewels of Israeli military and foreign policy.
    I’ve quoted this here before, but others have been saying this for years:

    Thus started the subtle, opaque use of the Israeli bomb to ensure that the United States kept its pledge to maintain Israel’s conventional weapons edge over its foes.[65] There is significant anecdotal evidence that Henry Kissinger told President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, that the reason for the U.S. airlift was that the Israelis were close to “going nuclear.”[66]


    One other purpose of Israeli nuclear weapons, not often stated, but obvious, is their “use” on the United States. America does not want Israel’s nuclear profile raised.[144] They have been used in the past to ensure America does not desert Israel under increased Arab, or oil embargo, pressure and have forced the United States to support Israeli diplomatically against the Soviet Union. Israel used their existence to guarantee a continuing supply of American conventional weapons, a policy likely to continue.


    This use of the threat of belligerence is also key to understanding what is happening with respect to Iran, and is related:

    A key element of the third way is the threat of a military attack against Iran. This threat is crucial for scaring the Iranians and for goading on the Americans and the Europeans. It is also crucial for spurring on the Chinese and the Russians. Israel must not behave like an insane country. Rather, it must create the fear that if it is pushed into a corner it will behave insanely. To ensure that Israel is not forced to bomb Iran, it must maintain the impression that it is about to bomb Iran.

    Israeli officials acknowledge that the widespread acceptance in the West that Iran is on the verge of building a nuclear weapon isn’t based just on the findings of Israeli intelligence operatives, but relies in no small part on a steady media campaign that the Israelis have undertaken to persuade the world that Iran is bent on building a nuclear warhead.
    “The intelligence was half the battle in convincing the world,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry official told McClatchy, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the inner workings of Israel’s outreach on the topic. “The other half was Israel’s persistent approach and attitude that this was not something the world could continue to ignore.”

    In other words, much psychological warfare on separate fronts.

  6. radii
    September 3, 2012, 4:31 pm

    U.S. law requires that Benjamin Netanyahu (and Arnon Milchan) be arrested by the FBI for espionage in the first case, and treason in the second case if the story is true that they were part of a ring that smuggled U.S. nuclear triggers out of the U.S. to Israel. Neyanyahu’s diplomatic immunity will expire with his fall from power or the end of his current term in office. It would be interesting to hear the reason the FBI gives for not pursuing Milchan, but I’m not aware than any journalist has asked, despite a lot of coverage of this story in the Israeli press. The offense, if what is alleged is true, is punishable by death if they are found guilty.

  7. kmjunk
    September 3, 2012, 4:55 pm

    I have always said that Israel is blackmailing the west to support it via its nuclear weapons programme. There are times when it would be so much easier to take action against Israel than put up with the amount of stick the US and Europe take on the issue. Even when it is clearly not in their US or Europe’s national interests to support Israel they continue to do so, it surely isn’t all lobby and money.

  8. Denis
    September 3, 2012, 6:18 pm

    Dempsey [Obama doesn’t have the balls] should grab Israel and Iran by the scruff of their necks and tell them that if either one attacks the other, the US will respond in kind. And that should be the US policy in the ME. Putin would go along with this. China likely would, too, b/c it needs the stability and the Iranian oil.

    Then the UN should look at extending sanctions to Israel to force it to empty its nuke larder. Once Iran no longer faces a nuclear threat from Israel, and once Israel is subjected to the same standards and inspections Iran is, the way out of this thicket will be easy.

    Obama, unfortunately, is not a leader. He’s a talker (i.e. bs’er) and the time for talk (i.e. bs) is over.

    My prediction is that if Bibi attacks, he’ll do it on the next new moon, middle of this month. Judging from the way US aircraft carrier groups are filling up the Persian Gulf, the lid is coming off this thing sooner rather than later.

  9. pabelmont
    September 4, 2012, 8:18 pm

    The “Samson Option” means the threat to use nukes in case of a threat to Israel of destruction (or, who knows, a threat of something less but something — like — really, really bad).

    Who says Israel’s nukes would never be used against USA targets, say NYC (where I live, and where two principal 9-11 targets were). Who could say such use had never been threatened? Might 9-11 have been a run-through to make the other threat more real?

    Blackmail is blackmail. And cargo-ship cargoes were not inspected until recently (if at all). Unlike airline passengers’ shoes, etc.

    • seanmcbride
      September 4, 2012, 8:40 pm


      There are dozens of possible Samson Option scenarios/scripts, many of which don’t require direct attacks on American or European soil. Permanently destroying at one stroke the leading Middle East oil fields would bring the West (and much of the world) to its knees. Another possibility: tricking superpowers into attacking one another with WMDs.

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