The United States, which already has tied Israel’s agreeing to Palestinian Authority demands with solving the Iranian nuclear threat, now cites Israel’s nuclear arsenal as the key.
Ellen Tauscher, U.S. Undersecretary of State for arms control, was quoted by the London Guardian as saying last week, "The best chance we have to achieve a WMD-free zone in the Middle East is to reach an agreement on a lasting and just peace in the Middle East." A proposal for a ban on mass destruction weapons in the Middle East is being circulated by the Obama administration and Russia.
Egypt also is circulating a proposal that links removing nuclear weapons from Israel with eliminating the Iranian threat to become a nuclear power. Egyptian Ambassador to the United Nations Maged A. Abdelaziz said last week, “Success in dealing with Iran will depend to a large extent on how successfully we deal with the establishment of a nuclear-free zone" in the Middle East, meaning Israel.
Cairo also is using its “Israel card” to refuse to participate in the chemical weapons convention, arguing that Israel first must sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
Israel’s “ambiguity” policy does not admit or confirm that it has nuclear weapons. It has declined to sign the NPT, which would require opening up state secrets on nuclear capability.
The United Nations this week opened its NPT conference and heard Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad charge, “The Zionist regime continues to threaten the countries of the Middle East with its arsenal. It continues to threaten the world's countries with acts of terror and invasion, and even gets the necessary assistance for its nuclear program.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed to the conference Monday that the United States has 5,113 nuclear weapons, nearly 50 percent less than most estimates.
However, she did not disclose how many weapons have long-range capability. The United States and Russia have “enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world many times over,” she said. American officials noted that the United States has reduced its nuclear capability by 84 percent since the mid-1960s and 90 percent since 1991.
Revealing the classified information in the American nuclear arsenal is designed at putting pressure on China to do the same.
An American-inspired Middle East peace, with Israel at the core, remains in the background of the official statements. Besides the Russian-American proposal, Egypt’s position paper calls for countries signing the non-proliferation treaty "to disclose all information available to them on the nature and scope of Israeli nuclear capabilities, including information pertaining to previous nuclear transfers to Israel."
The proposal is buried in its working paper being circulated in New York, according to the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus.
Pincus noted, “How the Obama administration deals with the nettlesome problem of Israel's nuclear arsenal and the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East will determine U.S. success or failure at the NPT conference.”