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West turns a blind eye to Israel's nuclear weapons: Academic

December 7, 2023 at 5:07 pm

A recent undated file photo of Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona [Photo by Getty Images]

Israel’s policies violate international rules, and the situation with nuclear weapons is no different, according to a prominent Austrian academic, Anadolu Agency reports.

The West’s silence on Israel’s nuclear weapons, while putting pressure on Iran and North Korea, is a “double standard”, Heinz Gartner, a Communications Professor at the University of Vienna, told Anadolu.

Amid the escalation of Israeli attacks on Gaza, Israeli far-right Heritage Minister, Amihai Eliyahu’s statement that “a nuclear bomb on Gaza is a possibility” has reignited the debate over the country’s nuclear program.

Although Israel refrains from informing the international community about whether it possesses nuclear weapons, the fact that it is the only country in the Middle East that has not accepted the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, which allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect all kinds of civilian and military nuclear facilities and to carry out verification activities for the work carried out, and that it is not a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) leads to the assessment that Israel has nuclear weapons in its inventory, he said.

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The academic said, although the Tel Aviv administration slurred over the questions on the nuclear issue, Israel signed several agreements with the United States and France in the early 1950s to conduct nuclear activities.

90 nuclear warheads

According to unofficial data from the Centre for Nuclear Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Israel was able to produce nuclear weapons by the end of the 1960s. It is estimated that there are about 90 plutonium-based nuclear warheads in this country and that Israel has produced enough plutonium for 100-200 weapons.

It is noteworthy that the Western countries, which put pressure on Iran, a party to the NPT, and North Korea, which is not a party to either treaty and whose nuclear facilities are under inspection because it has accepted the Security Inspection Treaty, are silent about Israel’s nuclear program.

Gartner said that threatening nuclear weapons in a conflict where conventional weapons are used does not have a serious return and that this was more clearly seen in the Ukraine-Russia War, and that Kyiv did not back down despite Moscow’s nuclear threats, and that the situation was not different in Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

“The use of nuclear weapons can only be considered in the event of a threat to the existence of a country. Hamas does not threaten Israel’s existence, so such a possibility (the use of nuclear weapons) is very weak,” he said.

Gartner noted that if Israel uses nuclear weapons in Gaza, it will also be seriously affected, and even if it uses small-scale nuclear weapons, this could cause great damage to itself.

‘Israel’s policies violate international rules on many issues’

Saying that Israel’s policies contradict international rules on many issues, Gartner noted that “there is very little pressure from the United States,” including on nuclear weapons.

Israel threatened to use nuclear weapons if the US did not come to support it, Gartner opined and added: “They used this as an instrument to draw the US into the conflict. This attitude may be playing a role at the moment.”

Gartner noted that the IAEA and the US want Israel to become a party to the NPT, but no concrete steps have been taken for this. “The US does not have a serious influence on Israel in this regard. For this reason, Israel has not even accepted the Comprehensive Security Agreement that the Agency applies to everyone, and Israel is not even an agenda item at the IAEA’s Board of Governors meetings.”

Nuclear-free zone

Gartner drew attention to the Western countries opposing the declaration of the Middle East as a nuclear-free zone and that the United States rejected this proposal during the negotiations on this issue.

“Iran and Arab countries can put more pressure on Israel. Beyond saying that the Middle East should be a nuclear-free zone, Iran can say, ‘I am joining the Central Asian nuclear-free zone’ and the Arab countries can say, ‘ We are joining the North African nuclear-free zone, the Pelindaba Treaty’. In this way, Israel will be completely isolated from the nuclear powers. The nuclear threat to Israel will disappear completely. Until now, it was always said that ‘Iran can “have nuclear weapons, so we should have them, too’. In such a situation, Israel may be forced to explain why it still possesses nuclear weapons,” he added.

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