Daniel R. DePetris
Security, Middle East
Welcome to the crash-course.
Secrets: Everything You Wanted to Know About Israel's Nuclear Weapons
The Iranian nuclear nonproliferation agreement has been the top foreign policy issue throughout Washington for the past two months. Approving or disapproving the deal was the first order of business for the U.S. Congress until the very last day of congressional action under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (September 17). Hours of debate have been conducted on the floors of the House and Senate, both chambers have held roll call votes, and Senate Democrats bonded together to filibuster a motion of disapproval — a resolution that would have prevented President Obama from providing the Iranians sanctions relief.
The Obama administration’s main selling point for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is based on the theory that forcing Tehran to downgrade its nuclear program will make the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East — the world’s most frenetic and violent region even without nuclear weapons— far less urgent. Yet we should remember that there is in fact a state in the region that already possesses nuclear weapons. That state happens to be Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East: Israel.
(This first appeared in September 2015.)
There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Israel’s nuclear arsenal. That is partly due to the Israeli security establishment’s unwritten rule of never speaking about the country’s nuclear weapons program in public in order to preserve the principle of deterrence. But there are indeed some basic elements of Israel’s nuclear program that are acknowledged by defense analysts in the United States and around the world.
1. The Number is in Doubt: