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Experts Seek To End U.S. Secrecy Regarding Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program

March 2, 2024 (EIRNS)—Three experts on nuclear weapons and arms control, William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive at George Washington University; Richard Lawless, a former CIA officer and former assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific affairs; and Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, placed an op-ed in the Washington Post on Feb. 19 in which they called for an end to the U.S. secrecy regarding Israel’s nuclear arsenal. The three authors don’t ask whose finger is on the Israeli nuclear trigger, but surely that must be on their minds, given the nature of the current government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“With the Israel-Hamas war, a nuclear Rubicon of sorts has been crossed: Two elected Israeli officials—a government minister and a member of parliament—not only publicly referenced Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons but suggested that they be detonated over Gaza. This was a disturbing first,” they wrote. “Meanwhile, in Washington, a long-standing secret executive order has prohibited American officials from even acknowledging that Israel has nuclear arms. Given the increasing risks of nuclear weapons proliferation—and, worse, use—continuing such self-censorship about Israel’s nuclear arsenal is not just bizarre; it’s harmful.”

Haaretz military columnist Yossi Melman, in response to Burr, Lawless and Sokolski, wrote on Feb. 28 that he hopes the U.S. secrecy regarding Israel’s nuclear program won’t be lifted as the Israeli policy of “strategic ambiguity” is “one of Israel’s most brilliant strategic decisions.” This policy, Melman argues, “helped the United States and the wider West, but also Russia and China, deflect pressure from Arab and Muslim countries, and essentially, from most of the international community.” Melman notes the contrast between the international treatment of Israel and of Iran—Israel is a “democracy” whereas Iran is a “tyrannical radical Islamic theocracy whose leaders threaten to destroy Israel.”

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