The Israeli media has publicised a declassified Pentagon document detailing Israel’s covert nuclear programme. The report, dated 1987 and titled “Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”, describes Israel’s nuclear infrastructure development and research throughout the 1970s and 1980s. According to Israel National News, the state had refrained from publicising its nuclear programme “to avoid a regional nuclear arms race”; it deems the US as having “breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel’s nuclear powers”.
However, this is not the first time that America has made such a disclosure. On 27 October 1989 the New York Times published an article regarding Israel’s cooperation with apartheid South Africa to develop a medium range missile. The article also includes references to the 1987 report which is being discussed currently as if it is a new revelation, which it isn’t, although the document is the only one known so far to have acknowledged Israel’s nuclear status which has been the source of much debate. It claims that Israel’s nuclear research laboratories in the 1970s and 1980s were “equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.”
The current discussion has been mainly centred on the timing of the report’s release, with the Israeli media criticising the move as retribution for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to US Congress, where he criticised possible negotiated nuclear frameworks with Iran. Additionally, the media is incensed at the fact that sections pertaining to Italy, West Germany, France and other NATO countries have been redacted, turning the focus of the report solely on Israel.
As the ambiguity retained by Israel over its nuclear capabilities collapses thanks to the publicity given to the declassified report, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should once again be under scrutiny, as well as the constant hype disseminated by mainstream media about Iran’s nuclear programme. The alleged fear in the West of an “Iranian bomb” has led to Iran being subjected to sanctions and diplomatic moves to limit its nuclear research and development, despite Tehran’s insistence that its programme reflects only peaceful purposes. However, the West has exhibited none of the same paranoia with regard to Israel, despite overwhelming evidence which demonstrates that the essence of the settler-colonial state is to sow discord in the region, impose a war agenda upon Iran and continue to expand its never-stated borders on Palestinian land. In that sense alone, the US report serves to highlight that paranoia and the double standards employed by the West in such matters.
According to Netanyahu, quoted in the Times of Israel, “The agreement being formulated [between the US and Iran]… sends a message that there is no price for aggression and, on the contrary, that Iran’s aggression is to be rewarded.” Unlike Israel, Iran has so far not even articulated any aggressive ambitions. However, Tehran’s refusal to recognise Israel – a position that other countries should emulate – is apparently enough for Netanyahu to conjure up hypothetical threats. In his warped assessment of the Middle East, the Israeli prime minister classifies Israel as one of “the moderate and responsible countries” that stand to face the repercussions should a deal be reached with Iran. However, even if previous mentions of Israel’s nuclear capabilities were erased from the collective memory through official propaganda, no amount of posturing and haranguing about Iran can now disguise Israel’s nuclear ambitions, intentions and capabilities.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.