Washington just voted in favor of Middle Eastern nukes

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — You have to wonder what the point is of all the Western hand-wringing over Iran’s nuclear potential, when a country in the Middle East already has nuclear warheads: Israel. Oh, didn’t you know?

When the United Nations General Assembly voted in early December on a resolution introduced by Middle Eastern and African countries to address the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, it’s Israel that was in the hot seat with its actual nuclear warheads, and not Iran over its potential to eventually develop one. An overwhelming 149 countries voted in favor of Israel renouncing its nukes, joining the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons treaty, and allowing access to international inspections. Twenty-four gutless wonders of the European Union apparently hid under their desks when the vote came up and abstained. Just five nations voted against the idea: Israel itself, the U.S., Canada, and the island nations of Palau and Micronesia.

So for all of Washington’s talk of the need to secure peace in the Middle East, it turns out that the U.S. actually does support nukes in the region – but just for Israel.

So why does Israel get a free pass on possessing nuclear weapons in the region? It might have something to do with the fact that it’s generally understood that countries that have them don’t actually go around using them. They know that doing so would be suicidal and that an overwhelming response is virtually guaranteed. The real value in such weapons is as a deterrent. Countries that have them are much harder to regime change. Israel feasibly requires them to protect itself from foes, but that argument is true for so many other nations, including countries that Washington insists can’t have them.

It also makes perfect sense that Washington would be in a race with certain countries to get them economically aligned with U.S. economic and political interests — either through diplomatic means or military force — before they can secure nuclear “insurance”. Because after that, it’s too late. The fact that Israel already represents U.S. interests in the Middle East also helps explain why its nukes hardly even raise an eyebrow in Washington.

Apparently any potential for weaponization of nuclear energy programs takes a backseat when there’s big money on the table for the U.S., which has been trying to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia since at least 2012, including through U.S.-based Westinghouse. Granted, the Saudi project is clearly one of civilian nuclear energy — not nuclear weapons — but that’s what Iran has repeatedly said, as well. The obvious difference is that Iran has worked with Russia to build its program, not the U.S.

If the Saudis ever get a nuke, then the United Arab Emirates will no doubt want one. Still, it’s Israel that first planted its flag in the Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. So why does Washington never talk about Israel’s nukes in that context? You’d hardly even know that they existed. Isn’t it high time for Israel to open up the kimono and let the UN’s nuke cops at the International Atomic Energy Agency have a peek at their atomic stash? The overwhelming majority of countries in the world clearly think so, judging by the UN vote.

Regardless of this reality, Washington reserves its obsessions for Iran, routinely evoking the potential to spin up nuclear-grade uranium with a few extra turns of the civilian energy centrifuges to justify economic sanctions. That’s particularly a problem for European companies that have been chomping at the bit to do business with Tehran. The European Union even bent over backward to create a trading platform to allow EU countries to do business with Tehran despite U.S. sanctions. Iranian trade represents a competitive economic advantage for Europe over the U.S., so Europe’s and Iran’s loss is ultimately America’s gain.

That didn’t stop Biden from bashing Iran for nuclear weapons that it doesn’t yet have right in front of French President Emmanuel Macron — or stop Macron from standing there and taking it. “The French and the United States are working together to hold accountable those responsible for the human rights abuses, to counter Iran’s support for Russia’s war, and to ensure that Iran does not — does not — emphasize “does not” — ever acquire a nuclear weapon,” Biden said during a White House press conference alongside Macron amid a state visit.

Yeah well, there was an actual mechanism in place to prevent precisely that – a multilateral deal involving Iran, China, France, Russia, U.S., UK, and Germany, where Iran gave up any nuclear weapons potential in exchange for U.S. sanctions relief. But the U.S. withdrew from it – unilaterally. What’s the use in yelling from the sidelines about the threat of nuclear weapons in the Middle East while literally voting in favor of securing their continued existence?