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April 9, 2009

Nuclear restraints

By Yousef Munayyer
April 9, 2009

It was nearly 25 years ago when Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu exposed his nation’s secret nuclear weapons program to the world through The Sunday Times of London. Now, days before he is due to be released from captivity in Israel, an American president dared to envision a world free of nuclear weapons. In the Middle East, however, things seem to be heading in the opposite direction.

While the Israelis have stuck to a strategy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming or denying possession of nuclear weapons, experts around the globe estimate the Israeli stockpile to be in the range of 70 to 300 nuclear warheads, reports the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Israelis have also taken pre-emptive and provocative steps to ensure nuclear dominance in the region by carrying out attacks in Iraq and Syria.

Despite the fact that the Israeli nuclear capability has contributed to the end of conventional interstate war in the region, animosity remains steady as battlefields shift. Increased asymmetrical warfare is on the rise and although Israel remains conventionally superior to its non-state enemies in the region, it has failed in eliminating the threats they pose.

Iran also continues to test Western patience by perpetuating its nuclear program. While Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, policymakers here often suspect otherwise.

The Middle East has enough problems and certainly does not need another, deadlier, weapons race. But an Iran-centric non-proliferation policy is myopic and dangerous and will likely lead the region into further destabilizing conflict.

A better approach is reviving an effort for a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction. Recalled in UN Security Council Resolution 687, the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East would go a great distance toward providing security for states in the region and re-establishing faith in the international legal system.

To do this, the international community, led by the United States, would have to put equal pressure on Iran and Israel to open their facilities for full inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and dismantle all nuclear weapons programs and eliminate all stockpiles.

This will not be easy for Israel to accept considering its history in the region and the solid track record of deterrence its weapons program has had with surrounding states.

However, these concerns can be allayed by strong security guarantees by the United States to retaliate against any state that launches a nuclear attack against Israel. A nuclear attack on Israel by a Muslim majority state is also deterred by the significant, and larger, number of Muslim kin who would be killed in such an attack.

This policy would have to go hand in hand with a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which has in recent years become a proxy battleground for the United States and Iran and has only resulted in the unnecessary deaths of countless innocents.

The alternatives to a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East are grim. It is unlikely that sanctions will halt a hurting but sustainable oil-exporting Iran, and military options cannot guarantee the desired outcome without the likelihood of ground operations or regional conflagration.

Eight years of disastrous U.S. foreign policy has contributed to the rise of a defensive Iran, the realignment of states in the Middle East, a perpetuated Israeli/Palestinian conflict and an increase in asymmetrical war throughout the region. The U.S. has a responsibility and a major national security and economic stake in setting the Middle East on a different course.

If President Barack Obama envisions a world free of nuclear weapons, he can begin by evenhandedly enforcing non-proliferation policy in the Middle East with Iran and Israel. Obama will get much further with this strategy than an Iran-only approach, which comes off to Middle Easterners as hypocritical, hegemonic and deceitful.

Yousef Munayyer is a policy analyst at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington.
SOURCE
via ePalestine Blog

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Nuclear Threat is from Israel NOT Iran.

Ezer Weizman once said “The nuclear issue is gaining momentum [and the] next war will not be conventional.” From the 1950s the US trained Israeli nuclear scientists and providing nuclear technology, including a small ‘research’ reactor in 1955 under the ‘Atoms for Peace’ program. The French built a uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing plant in the Negev desert, called Dimona. The Israelis lied, stating it was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory”. In return for uranium, Israel supplied South Africa with the technology and expertise that allowed the white supremacist regime to build the “apartheid bomb”.

In 1979 US satellite photographs revealed the atmospheric test of a nuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa, Israel’s involvement was quickly whitewashed by a carefully selected scientific panel, kept in the dark about important details. Israeli sources have since revealed “there were actually three tests of miniaturised Israeli nuclear artillery shells”.

Mordechai Vanunu worked as a nuclear technician at Dimona. A supporter of Palestinian rights, Vanunu believed it was his duty to warn the world about the danger Israel posed. In 1986, he smuggled out photographs showing that the plant was producing enough plutonium to make 10 to 12 bombs a year, and that at least 200 miniaturised bombs had been built.

Viva Palestina US: ‘We aim for $10 million in aid and 500 vehicles for Gaza’, say George Galloway and Ron Kovic

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Fresh from the success of the Viva Palestina aid convoy which took over 100 vehicles to Gaza from Britain, George Galloway MP has linked up on his US tour with the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner Ron Kovic to launch a similar, but bigger venture from the States.

Galloway announced the initiative at a 1000-strong meeting in Anaheim, South California, rounding off a packed-out, coast to coast speaking tour highlighting the Palestinian cause. (You can watch youtube video at www.vivapalestina.org )

“There’s a new atmosphere in the US over Palestine,” says Galloway, “the phenomenal response to this tour demonstrates that.”

Ron Kovic, whose story was immortalised in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, will be the co-leader of the convoy, which will form up in Egypt and make its way to the Rafah crossing and into Gaza.

Organisers are aiming for 500 vehicles and $10 million of aid.

“And what better day to head off,” says Galloway, “Than July 4 – Independence Day!”

For further information contact Kevin Ovenden: 07983 360 874

Email Alert from www.vivapalestina.org .

In Lebanon too

Activists picket outside ‘pro-Israel’ McDonalds
By Marc Abizeid

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

BEIRUT: McDonalds became the latest target of the boycott campaign against pro-Israeli businesses Tuesday when a couple of dozen activists representing the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth (ULDY) picketed outside the fast-food chain’s Hamra location across from the American University of Beirut (AUB).

“People who sit there and don’t care – may they eat poison,” they shouted, addressing the few customers who ignored the protesters and munched on their food inside the restaurant. “You’re being fed Palestinian meat,” they continued.

ULDY regularly calls for protests outside large restaurants and businesses that the group accuses of contributing directly or indirectly to Israel. Last month the same activists held a similar protest outside a Starbucks cafe, also located in Hamra.

At McDonalds, they held up signs and handed out flyers to passers-by. One of the signs read: “300 job opportunities in Lebanon, is this worth one Palestinian life?” The phrase was in response to McDonalds’ defenders in the country who say that the local franchise is run by Lebanese, uses Lebanese products and provides incomes for 300 Lebanese families.

“We have come here today to spread knowledge of the importance of the boycott,” said ULDY member Tarek al-Ali. “Whats being done in Gaza [isn’t over yet]. People there are still sick, suffering, feeling hunger and are still under siege by Israel.”

Several police officers quietly observed as the store’s manager came out to confront the protesters but, outnumbered and facing a deeply passionate crowd, soon retreated.

“I always had this guilt like we should not go eat at McDonalds nor at Starbucks or any of these franchises that are supporting the Zionists,” Rasha Moghnieh, 21, replied when asked why she didn’t cross the picket line to join her friends inside the restaurant.

“It’s not about individuals,” she said. “Governments should be boycotting these chains.”

SOURCE

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