US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reaffirmed the strategic understandings between the US and Israel regarding Israel’s alleged undeclared military nuclear program during Bennett's White House visit, a senior Israeli official briefed on the meeting told Barak Ravid of Axios on Wednesday.
This has become a ritual for every US President since Richard Nixon in their first meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister.
The US commits not to press Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or give up its alleged nuclear arsenal, while Israel agrees to maintain its "nuclear ambiguity" and refrain from any nuclear tests or threats of a nuclear strike.
The strategic understandings were first discussed between Nixon and Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969, at which point the Israeli nuclear capability had crossed the point of no return.
Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton reiterated those oral understandings in their first meetings with their Israeli counterparts, noted Ravid.
In 1998, during the Wye River peace conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked President Bill Clinton to turn the oral understanding to a written document. Clinton agreed and signed a letter committing that the US would allow Israel to retain its “strategic deterrence” capability regardless of any non-proliferation initiative.
Bennett and his aides declined to comment on this issue, as did the White House.
Arab countries have for years targeted Israel’s nuclear ambiguity policy and have tried to put attention on the Dimona reactor in southern Israel, which they claim has been "overlooked" by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors for decades.
The Arab League has unsuccessfully tried to convince the US and European nations to join a campaign to end Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity.
The campaign has, however, seen some support at the United Nations. A UN resolution passed in 2010 called for a nuclear-free Middle East and singled out Israel for criticism, while ignoring Iran, whose former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad constantly threatened to wipe Israel off the map.