My interview with al-Jazeera
My interview with al-Jazeera

Al-Jazeera, the Qatari-based TV news network is in the process of piecing together a program titled “The day Israel crossed the nuclear threshold.”

The main objective of this program is intended to expose the “truth” about how Israel satisfied its “military nuclear ambitions” while resorting to sophisticated deception, seedy lies and extortion when dealing with its supreme ally—the United States of America.

Producing a program of that magnitude and scope requires expert knowledge, analysis and opinions by those who are familiar with nuclear technology in general and Israel’s nuclear history in particular. The ideal, most credible program participants are Israelis who would explain, elaborate and confirm (on camera, in their own words) the assertion concerning Israel’s methods of "deception, blatant lies and extortion schemes" employed in Israel’s quest for nuclear arms capability.

Al-Jazeera approached me for an interview on the subject, and I agreed.

Right from the outset, I tried to set the record straight by arguing against the al-Jazeera’s characterization of Israel’s nuclear project as “military ambitions”. “They were not,” I claimed. “The phrase “Military ambitions” carries the implication of aggressive intentions. Israel’s intentions have not been a product of military ambitions; rather, these have been legitimate defense and deterrent needs.”

Then I added. “The world doesn’t really have hard evidence that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, but regardless of whether they do or don’t,” I took a short breath before concluding, “Israel should possess these weapons of last resort.”

I said, “Israel should possess these weapons of last resort.” The al-Jazeera interviewer seemed astounded. His facial expression resembled a question mark.

The al-Jazeera interviewer seemed astounded. His facial expression resembled a question mark.

“Nuclear weapons,” I expounded, “have not been used in wars since World War II. In today’s world the only reason for utilizing weapons of true mass destruction is when the underlying objective is genocide. And Israel is the only nation in the world that is subject to a genocidal threat.”

I offered examples. “Abd el Nasser announced in March 1965, “The liquidation of Israel will be liquidation through violence. We shall enter Palestine, not covered with sand but soaked in blood.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been talking about wiping Israel off the map. Other Arab leaders have been echoing both leaders’ words and intentions.

“No other nation in the world is facing these kinds of jeopardies,” I added. “Israel should never be caught naked if and when one of its genocide-seeking enemies possesses nuclear weapons. Israel must be able to defend itself, while possessing a compelling deterrent, making its enemies forego the use of nuclear weapons against the Jewish state for fear of massive retaliation.”

The questioning moved to the issue of deception. Al-Jazeera attempted to cook the background by describing the US-Israel cooperation, stressing the alliance (including the “Atoms for Peace” project) between the Jewish state and the Americans before demonstrating how Israel “double-crossed” its most dependent ally, covering up and lying about the purpose and function of its nuclear reactor in Dimona.

I countered. “We need to put it all in perspective.”

“During Israel’s early days following its independence, contrary to common views held throughout the Arab world, the US was not Israel’s most trusted ally. In fact, the US placed Israel under an arms embargo that lasted until the late 60s. The US refused to sell high quality arms to Israel even in the face of massive buildup of Egyptian and Syrian arms caches by the Soviet Union.

“France was Israel’s true and sole ally at that time, and cooperation between Israel and France on the Dimona project benefitted France as well. The French were working on designing and fabricating their own nuclear capability; they made use of Israeli patents, and got help from Israeli nuclear scientists. Furthermore, in 1956 a war broke out between Israel and Egypt. The war was joined by France and Great Britain (GB). The two countries invaded the Suez Canal after Nasser had nationalized it.

"The Soviets threatened France and GB with a nuclear attack should they refuse to withdraw their forces from the canal. The US, under the Eisenhower Administration applied pressure on France, GB and Israel to withdraw rather than standing up to the Soviets’ threats. France, GB and Israel felt betrayed by the Americans.

“To facilitate Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai, Eisenhower provided Israeli Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, with security guaranties including the demilitarization of the Sinai and an American direct military involvement should Egypt attack Israel. Both guaranties proved hollow during1967 when the Americans under the Johnson Administration did not stop Nasser’s aggressive military buildup in the Sinai, his closing of the straights of Tiran to Israeli shipping and his announcements concerning and preparations for Israel’s bloody, imminent demise.” 

In response to al-Jazeera’s questions concerning the American “Atoms for Peace” project, I added. “Israel was working with the French (not with the Americans) on its nuclear project. The construction of the Dimona reactor started in 1953 with French help. The American “Atoms for Peace” project had nothing to do with Dimona. It was initiated in 1955, two years following Israeli-French nuclear cooperation on the Dimona reactor.

"In 1960, following Ben Gurion’s admission that the Dimona project was a peaceful nuclear reactor, the US under the Kennedy Administration insisted on inspections of the facility.  

“After some delays, the American visits took place but failed to uncover activities or materials indicative of nuclear weapons production. In the following years as more American inspections took place, the US administrations of Johnson and Nixon came to the realization that Israel might possess the means for nuclear bomb production even though the Americans had never uncovered any hard evidence proving their assumptions.”

Here I added my own caveat. “The Americans main concern was not Israel’s own nuclear weapons. They worried that Israel’s nuclear project may instigate a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, that it would lead to a closer collaboration between the Soviets and their Arab clients on the nuclear issue, and that it would bring about Arabs’ dependence on the Soviet Union.

"The Americans finally realized that Israel would never attack an Arab country with nuclear weapons unless there was a threat to Israel’s existence.  The US and Israel came to an understanding that as long as Israel had not introduced—test, announce or threaten its adversaries with a nuclear attack—the risk of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East would have been diminished. The Americans realized that a nuclear Israel may even contribute to stability due to Israel’s powerful deterrent.

"Consequently, US administrations starting with Johnson’s were willing to replace France as the main arms supplier to Israel. It was not an Israeli blackmail or any unreasonable political pressure that brought about stronger military ties between Israel and the US.  It was the realization that a strong Israel was essential to keeping the peace, to facing up to the Soviet Union.”

At this point the al-Jazeera interviewer asked about the means and the methods employed by inspectors to detect efforts designed to produce nuclear weapons, and the measures taken by a nation, trying to mask these activities. I felt at home talking about Uranium enrichment process and Plutonium reprocessing. I avoided discussing details of the second part of the question other than saying that masking nuclear activities for military applications is possible.

We concluded the interview with my assertion that the world should be applying a double-standard on the issue of nuclear Iran. The civilized world understands that a nuclear Israel does not hold a real threat of launching nuclear attacks on its enemies unless Israel is attacked first and it faces a potential Holocaust.

On the other hand, Iran has announced its aggressive intentions; it is a terrorist state, ruled by religious fanatics who may try to engineer Armageddon to fulfill their vision of some sick and crazy prophecies. There must be a different standard when dealing with a nuclear Iran.

Al Jazeera was trying to expose the double standard by demonstrating that Iran has been copying Israel’s expedition towards a nuclear weapons capability.

I trust that my responses to their questions helped make clear that Iran must be subject to a different standard concerning their quest for nuclear weapons.

My bottom line message was: “A nuclear Iran must not be tolerated, while a nuclear Israel needs not be feared.”

The interview will be aired by al-Jazeera in the near future (no date is available at the time of this writing) after they apply their own creative editing.