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Friday, October 24, 2008

Sleight of hand - Mustafa El-Feki

The presence of Israel, which refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while maintaining 200-plus nuclear warheads, puts paid to any attempt to lay down regional rules for peace and security. Israel's regional monopoly of nuclear weapons cannot be regarded solely as a deterrent. It must also be regarded as an instrument of intimidation by means of which Israel seeks to terrorise its neighbours and abuse their rights. Yet in the negotiations between Arab ambassadors and US and Israeli delegates in the IAEA the latter invariably spoke of the risks of Arab nuclear arms, as though there actually were such things, as opposed to the peril Israeli nuclear weapons, which really do exist, represent. On one occasion I threw out a hypothetical question: if the Arabs and Israel reached a peace agreement that provided for permanent collective or unilateral security arrangements would Israel then officially acknowledge its nuclear arms, sign the NPT and agree to IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities? The answer was both surprising and provocative. Of course not, they said, because there would still be the danger from other non-Arab countries in the region. They were alluding to Iran, of course. I laughed and said: "Yes, and Pakistan, too, and maybe other countries. Israel will never run out of excuses for holding on to its exclusive advantage."


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