Last month, four days after Iran announced that it planned to attend a high-profile meeting on the banning of WMD’s in the Middle East, the US backed out, saying that the “time is not opportune.”
But along with Russia and the UK, the U.S. was one of the key sponsors of the conference, set to take place in Helsinki, Finland, by the end of 2012. 189 member nations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty had agreed to attend, but not Israel. Now the meeting has been called off.
That is the backdrop behind the UN General Assembly’s approval of a resolution last week calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and open its nuclear program for inspection:
Time Magazine, UN Calls on Israel to Open Nuclear Facilities:
(UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on Israel to quickly open its nuclear program for inspection and backing a high-level conference to ban nuclear weapons from the Middle East which was just canceled.
All the Arab nations and Iran had planned to attend the conference in mid-December in Helsinki, Finland, but the United States announced on Nov. 23 that it wouldn’t take place, citing political turmoil in the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation. Iran and some Arab nations countered that the real reason for the cancellation was Israel’s refusal to attend.
The resolution, approved Monday by a vote of 174-6 with 6 abstentions, calls on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty “without further delay” and open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Those voting “no” were Israel, the U.S., Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
Russia Today’s Paula Slier did a segment on the UNGA resolution, titled Nuclear Israel: The secret that is not, about efforts to “lift the veil surrounding Israel’s atomic program.” She interviewed IRmep‘s Grant Smith about recently-released FBI files (pdf) dubbed “Project Pinto” and Joseph Gelman, co-author of Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan. Notice the fact that Freedom of Information Act releases by the US government do nothing to disguise Benjamin Netanyahu’s involvement:
Paula Slier: Earlier this year, the FBI released these documents from a seven-year investigation which began in 1985. They show how a network of front companies connected to the Israeli Defense Ministry smuggled nuclear triggers out of the United States to Israel.
Grant F. Smith, IRmep research director: What’s apparent in the documents is that the Israeli Ministry of Defense would place an order for prohibited items with an Israeli company called Heli Trading. Heli Trading is where Benjamin Netanyahu worked and would meet with Richard Kelly Smyth when he visited Israel. Then they would transfer the order to an organization called Milco in California to fulfill the order, violating the [Arms] Export Control Act, and shipping the triggers out of the United States.
Paula Slier: They called the operation “Project Pinto.” All of the allegations are based on Smyth’s testimony, and many have been surprised by their detail.
Grant F. Smith: If you take a look at the documents, Netanyahu is definitely mentioned in the document. And that’s what surprised us, because typically you get two types of [Freedom of Information Act} censors of this type of document. Sometimes they’ll block off an entire page. Sometimes they’ll just block off a name. In this case, Netanyahu’s name is clearly stated in the documents.
Paula Slier: In the documents it is alleged that Netanyahu asked Milchan, the Hollywood producer, not to discuss the matter publicly. In a written response to RT, the Israeli Foreign Ministry denied all allegations, which is hardly a surprise, as Tel Aviv’s official position is neither to confirm nor deny possession of nuclear arms. Relatively few people have knowledge of the overall Israeli nuclear program, and there are few leaks. The last time an Israeli insider leaked confidential information was way back in 1986.
Joseph Gelman: And that operation went on for many years and Israel successfully achieved the technologies and materials necessary to obtain the nuclear deterrent arsenal that it has today, probably the fifth largest arsenal in the world.
Paula Slier: On the other side of the story, aside from the leaked documents, Washington too is keeping quiet. Israeli nuclear capabilities are some of the most guarded secrets the US government holds. Far more secret, some would argue, than information it has about Iran. But for the forseeable future, the book on Israel’s nuclear secrets is closed. Paula Slier, RT, Israel.