How About “Any Time, Anywhere” Inspections for Israel’s Nuclear Weapons?

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues his whinging campaign that the West capitulated on a non-existent earlier demand for “any time, anywhere” snap inspections in Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by the P5+1 group of nations with Iran on its nuclear activities, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has come forward with a proposal that brilliantly turns the tables on Israel. Writing in the Guardian, Zarif calls on Israel to join in a plan to remove all weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East. Such a plan, of course, would require Israel to give up its poorly-held secret of an arsenal of their own nuclear weapons:

We – Iran and its interlocutors in the group of nations known as the P5+1 – have finally achieved the shared objective of turning the Iranian nuclear programme from an unnecessary crisis into a platform for cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation and beyond. The nuclear deal reached in Vienna this month is not a ceiling but a solid foundation on which we must build. The joint comprehensive plan of action, as the accord is officially known, cements Iran’s status as a zone free of nuclear weapons. Now it is high time that we expand that zone to encompass the entire Middle East.

Also in the Guardian, Julian Borger provides some perspective on Zarif’s proposal:

Israel does not officially confirm its nuclear arsenal, but it is believed to have about 80 warheads. Zarif’s remarks also represent a rebuke to the five permanent members of the UN security council, all armed with nuclear weapons – the US, Russia, France, the UK and China – as well as the three other nuclear-armed states which, like Israel, are not NPT signatories: India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

/snip/

Since a cold war high in 1986, when global stockpiles of nuclear warheads topped 65,000, the main weapons states have reduced their arsenals considerably. There are now thought to be fewer than 16,000 warheads worldwide, of which 14,700 are held – roughly equally – by the US and Russia. But the disarmament is now approaching a standstill. The Obama administration wanted to follow the 2010 New Start agreement with another, more ambitious, arms control treaty, but the dramatic worsening in relations halted progress. Russia and the US are modernising their nuclear arsenals.

That last bit about the US and Russia modernizing weapons rather than removing them is especially upsetting, but for now I’d like to concentrate on Zarif’s Middle East proposal. Insterestingly, Zarif points to Iran’s history of restraint on weapons of mass destruction when it came to the Iran-Iraq war. While widespread use of chemical weapons by Iraq in that war is indisputable, Zarif claims that Iran “never reciprocated in kind”. The record seems to bear that out. While Iran did develop their own chemical weapons program late in the war, the evidence that they ever used it is murky at best.

Zarif correctly depicts Israel as openly flaunting the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty while at the same time noting how ironic that position is considering Israel’s rabid attitude towards Iran’s nuclear program:

One of the many ironies of history is that non-nuclear-weapon states, like Iran, have actually done far more for the cause of non-proliferation in practice than nuclear-weapon states have done on paper. Iran and other nuclear have-nots have genuinely “walked the walk” in seeking to consolidate the non-proliferation regime. Meanwhile, states actually possessing these destructive weapons have hardly even “talked the talk”, while completely brushing off their disarmament obligations under the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and customary international law.

That is to say nothing of countries outside the NPT, or Israel, with an undeclared nuclear arsenal and a declared disdain towards non-proliferation, notwithstanding its absurd and alarmist campaign against the Iranian nuclear deal.

Borger gives us a concise summary of Zarif’s proposal:

Zarif makes three proposals: for negotiations to begin on a nuclear weapons elimination treaty; that this should lead initially to nuclear arsenals being taken off high alert readiness (for example, by removing warheads from missiles); and for the creation of a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

Again, the irony of Israel’s actions are brought into full light here. Another front on which Israel has been vocal regarding the JCPOA relates to restrictions on Iran’s missile program. At the same time Israel wants to severely restrict any further development of missiles in Iran, Israel has an arsenal of missiles already fitted with nuclear warheads and ready for launch.

But there is one more point that Zarif puts into his piece that I can’t stop marveling at. In his description of how negotiations on his plan could start, we have this:

One step in the right direction would be to start negotiations for a weapons elimination treaty, backed by a robust monitoring and compliance-verification mechanism.

What better spokesman could the world have for a “robust monitoring and compliance-verification mechanism” than the man who just agreed to submit his own country to history’s most intrusive inspections program for a country that hasn’t just been defeated in a war. He is definitely “walking the walk” when it comes to inspections and compliance. But I can’t help wondering if, should such negotiations actually get underway (note: yes, I realize that the chances are much less than zero), Zarif would allow himself, at least once, to call for Israel to submit to “any time, anywhere” inspections of its nuclear program.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
13 replies
  1. galljdaj says:

    Yes, an iron clad boycott on israel to remove its weapons of mass destruction is necessary, but also the removal of all such weapons with anytime or place for inspection is needed for the USA(second) and all the other Nations need to be included!

    Its well past time to remove the arms corporations from Our cultures and societies. Outlaws and criminals one and all!

  2. RUKidding says:

    It’s a great idea. Who’s going to do the weapons inspection? Who will do whatever is needed to be done after such an inspection? From where I sit, Israel is the tail that wags several dogs, including Team USA and most of Western Europe.

  3. Stephen says:

    Writing in the Guardian, Zarif calls on Israel to join in a plan to remove all weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East.

    Hmm. Perhaps this also explains Netanyahu’s virulent opposition to the Iran deal. Maybe he figured that if the Iranian deal was approved Israel might find itself next on the disarmament agenda.

  4. Ed Walker says:

    Zarif trolls Congress.
    I’m worried our negotiators are out of their league with this guy.

  5. What Constitution? says:

    Damn this guy, pointing out there’s an elephant in the room. I just hate it when that happens.

  6. bloopie2 says:

    With this deal at least we’ve got ten years of good times, I believe. That’s what Lynn Anderson would want for us — share the good times while we can. Sadly, she died yesterday. Would that I could leave behind something as great as her performance of Rose Garden.
    .

    • wallace says:

      quote”Would that I could leave behind something as great as her performance of Rose Garden.”unqoute

      Marvelous. Thanks.

  7. wallace says:

    ps. Rose Garden. I’ve got $1k that says AI will never figure that human algorithm out EVER.

  8. wallace says:

    ps… quote” Sadly, she died yesterday.”unquote

    Omg. I missed that. Indeed..sadly. I lived within a few miles of her upbringing era, and my wife went to school with her. What one discovers over the course of a life time, is the unbelievable talent living next door and you never know it. Like.. emptywheel.

  9. wallace says:

    ps 2.. while the IC establishment and the WDC wiener circuit surrenders to the the money.. real human embellishment occurs.. regardless of those scum who seek only relevance by their connections in the WDC state of power. They know nothing…

    You want freedom? Here it is …

  10. wayoutwest says:

    One unintended consequence of this deal is already evident, the House of Saud has begun to expand their Nuke capabilities using the Iran deal as a blueprint to claim what is allowed for Iran is also allowed for the KSA but probably without the humiliating inspections regime. This means they will, within a few years, have the same Nuke weapon breakout capability that Iran has, a year or two before weapon production.

    Zarif’s PR No Nukes proposal is probably mostly for local consumption to take some of the sting out of the humiliation of Iran’s submission to Western intrusion or at least to deflect attention from that fact. He almost sounds like a beauty queen calling for World Peace with similar results expected.

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