Reigniting the NPT

The NPT/Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was created in 1968, and maintains that nuclear weapons proliferation can only be curtailed if nuclear countries move toward disarmament.

The purpose of the NPT Review, which happens every five years, is to reaffirm the signatories’ commitments to the treaty’s three purposes: disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Countries without nuclear weapons that signed the NPT, such as Iran, were promised full support in developing other nuclear technologies in exchange for renouncing nuclear weapons. The five nuclear powers that signed the NPT agreed to get rid of their nuclear weapons.

On March 28, 2005, Former President Jimmy Carter, wrote for the Washington Post, “While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons.”

On May 5, 2005, Kennedy-era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said, “I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous.”

On April 29, 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she did not see Iran’s purpose in attending the NPT conference, because their violations since signing the NPT are “absolutely indisputable.”

Speaking at the American Jewish Committee gala dinner in Washington, Clinton called the threat Iran posed to Israel as “real” and “growing.”

At last month’s two-day conference on nuclear disarmament hosted in Tehran and attended by representatives of 60 countries, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement declaring nuclear weaponry as haram meaning prohibited under Islam. Iran says it enriches uranium for civilian applications and that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to the technology already in the hands of many others.

In D.C. Clinton opined, “Iran, with its anti-Semitic president and hostile nuclear ambitions, also continues to threaten Israel, but it also threatens the region and it sponsors terrorism against many…At every turn, Iran has met our outstretched hand with a clenched fist. But our engagement has helped build a growing global consensus on the need to pressure Iran’s leaders to change course. We are now working with our partners at the United Nations to craft tough new sanctions.”

Professor Virginia Tilley, explained that in his October 2005 speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad never used the word “map” or the term “wiped off.” According to Farsi-language experts like Juan Cole, and even right-wing services like MEMRI, what he actually said was “this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the pages of time.”

“In this speech to an annual anti-Zionist conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad was being prophetic, not threatening. He was citing Imam Khomeini, who said this line in the 1980s (a period when Israel was actually selling arms to Iran, so apparently it was not viewed as so ghastly then). Mr. Ahmadinejad had just reminded his audience that the Shah’s regime, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein had all seemed enormously powerful and immovable, yet the first two had vanished almost beyond recall and the third now languished in prison. So, too, the ‘occupying regime’ in Jerusalem would someday be gone. His message was, in essence, ‘This too shall pass.’”

In April 2010, several diplomats told Reuters that Egypt made it clear that it sees Israel as a higher priority than Iran and threatened to prevent the NPT conference from reaching any agreements if it does not get what it wants vis-à-vis Israel.

Egyptian initiatives at NPT meetings are nothing new, but this year they have issued a paper calling for an international treaty conference by 2011 to launch negotiations between all states of the Middle East, regarding an internationally and effectively verifiable treaty for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

At the 1995 NPT conference, member states unanimously supported a resolution backing the idea of “a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction.”

The preamble to the NPT calls on nuclear weapons states “to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.”

Article VI of the NPT obliges signatories “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The three undeclared nuclear powers- India, Pakistan and Israel-have all refused to sign the NPT, and thus are ‘exempt’ from international inspections.

In 1986, the world learned that Israel had already developed between one hundred to two hundred atomic bombs and had begun to develop neutron bombs and thermonuclear weapons, after Mordechai Vanunu, a lowly tech in Israel’s 7-story underground clandestine WMD facility, provided two rolls of photographic proof and his testimony that was published by the London Sunday Times.

Israel has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, has never opened its facilities for IAEA inspections and thus far, President Obama persists in another of President George W. Bush’s policies.

On April 24, 2004, Uri Avnery wrote after Vanunu was released from 18 years in a windowless tomb sized cell to house arrest denied the right to leave the state ever since, that “Everybody understands that [Vanunu] has no more secrets. What can a technician know after 18 years in jail, during which technology has advanced with giant steps?

But gradually it becomes clear what the security establishment is really afraid of. Vanunu is in a position to expose the close partnership with the United States in the development of Israel’s nuclear armaments.

This worries Washington so much, that the man responsible in the State Department for ‘arms control’, Under-Secretary John Bolton, has come to Israel in person for the occasion. Vanunu, it appears, can cause severe damage to the mighty super-power. The Americans, it seems, are very worried.

The world must be prevented by all available means from hearing, from the lips of a credible witness, that the Americans are full partners in Israel’s nuclear arms program, while pretending to be the world’s sheriff for the prevention of nuclear proliferation.

Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, Professor of international politics at the American University in Cairo and a former advisor to the UN’s Middle East envoy in Jerusalem, wrote:

In the multilateral security talks that followed the 1991 Madrid Conference, Israel adamantly refused to discuss its nuclear program unless conventional and unconventional threats of its neighbors were addressed first (including those posed by Iran and Saddam’s Iraq). Conversely, Arab states insisted on including Israel’s nuclear weapons in the discussion before any security arrangement could be agreed. As a result, the talks collapsed and were never revived in the years since.

Had the US intervened 15 years ago and led Arab states and Israel towards overcoming their tit-for-tat attitude, a Mideast security regime, with confidence-building measures, safeguards and verification mechanisms, would probably have emerged by now. Both the US and actors in the region need to start a dialogue on all security concerns in the Middle East that includes the nuclear issues. And they need to start this dialogue now, and urgently.

John Burroughs, the executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, a nonprofit group concerned with disarmament issues, has warned that America’s behavior poses a profound threat to the NPT framework:

The U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons as a core element of its national security has always created serious tension within the non-proliferation regime, because it reinforced the double standard: Some countries can have nuclear weapons, others can’t.

But President Obama has also stated clearly and with conviction that America is committed to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

In 2009, in Prague he said, “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act… Let us bridge our divisions, build upon our hopes, and accept our responsibility to leave this world more prosperous and more peaceful than we found it. Together we can do it… Words must mean something [and] violence and injustice must be confronted by standing together as free nations, as free people… [and] Human destiny will be what we make of it.”

All things are connected and the security concerns of America, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, the Gulf States, and the world are mutually dependent.

The commitment to pursue nuclear disarmament is enshrined in the NPT and human destiny hinges upon those words meaning something.

Eileen Fleming is the author of Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory and the producer of 30 Minutes With Vanunu. Email her at Read other articles by Eileen, or visit Eileen's website.

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  1. bozh said on May 1st, 2010 at 11:14am #

    As long as fierce asocialism or fascism exists in US it will, i affirm, not ever get rid of its wmd. Fascism and wmd are our greatest evils facing the world;thus, go together.
    There is no law, pact, agreement fascists won`t violate if any stand in fascist way!