Israel should get
rid of its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programs -- its alleged nuclear
arsenal -- they say. Yet, Iran is working as we speak to get the bomb. Syria
has lots and lots of chemical weapons (CW) and missiles to attack with. So
does Egypt. In fact, Egypt like its Arab brother Iraq used its chemical weapons
in the past. Egypt in the 1960's in Yemen; Iraq in the 1980's against the
Kurds, Iraqi Shiites, and Iranians. India and Pakistan have the bomb, so
does North Korea. I won't mention the five permanent members of the UN who
do too. And Libya?
Libya, that on again, off again sponsor of international terrorism since
the 1970's, has plenty of chemical weapons -- about 100 tons of mustard gas
and nerve agents, according to the CIA -- and missiles that could hit Israel
and most of Europe. The Germans sold the missiles to them in the 1980's.
They also have Scuds from North Korea. Libya also has sought dual-use capabilities
that could be used to develop and produce biological warfare (BW) agents.
But now Libya's leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi -- or is that gadfly? --
has announced that he will scrap Libya's WMD programs. He promised to put
his nuclear facilities under greater international inspection. Sounds like,
So what do all these Middle Eastern "Ban the Bomb" advocates start to do?
Commenting on Gaddafi's actions, Libya's state-run press made clear that
Israel would have to follow suit with its weaponry. The Al-Jamahiriya
newspaper said Libya's decision had reversed the "race" to produce weapons
of mass destruction in the Middle East and placed "exceptional pressure on
Israel" to come clean on its own nuclear weapons, which it has neither admitted
to nor denied possessing.
Following Gaddafi's recent announcement, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed
Maher called on Israel to follow Libya's example and get rid of its nuclear
weapons program. Maher said, "I hope that other countries in the region...would
follow such an example...get rid of and put an end to any nuclear weapons
production program," Maher said. Maher did not specifically name Israel,
but said, "You know, of course, who I mean." When asked if the international
community should start looking at Israel's nuclear capabilities, Maher said:
"I said that the steps which Libya took should be a model to follow. This
is clear. I won't add anything."
The same day, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, joined in saying,
"The Libyan position confirms the importance of pressuring Israel to comply
with all laws banning nuclear proliferation and joining the NPT" [nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty]. Moussa added, "It is not logical to make an exception
or to be tolerant of Israel on this issue." The Arab states have spoken.
Then, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called on Israel to eliminate its
WMD. "We welcome the Libyan decision," Mubarak told journalists during a
visit to Sadat City, in southern Cairo. "Israel must also eliminate its weapons
of mass destruction." Egypt has for some time called on the Israel to ratify
the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and make the Middle East a region free
of WMD. Mubarak said that in the mid-1990s he discussed with former Israeli
prime minister and current opposition leader Shimon Peres (Labor) the matter
of Israel dismantling its nuclear arsenal. Mubarak claimed that Peres --
father of the Israeli nuclear program -- told him that the issue would be
resolved following a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
That's Egypt; former user of chemical weapons itself. That's Egypt, who according
to the Monterey Institute of International Studies -- which tracks weapons
issues -- has its own stockpile of deadly Sarin and VX nerve agents, and
is believed to working on an offensive BW program as well.
Iran also praised Libya's decision to abandon its WMD program, calling for
pressure against Israel to do the same. Iranian officials released a statement
that the time has come for the international community to exert pressure
on Israel to abandon its nuclear program, referring to Israel as the main
threat to the region. That's Iran, the country that not long ago was parading
around its new Scud 3's that could hit Israel -- allegedly -- with markings
on them for "Tel-Aviv" and "Jerusalem."
What's with all this concern about Israeli WMD all of a sudden?
The answer is that with the fall of Saddam's regime and American occupation,
Iraq has been temporarily taken out of the WMD loop, or so it seems. With
the Libyan declarations and Iran's recent signing of the additional protocol
of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which opens the way for unannounced
UN inspections of suspect sites, the door has been opened for increased pressure
on Israel. Iran and Syria know there's still a lot of focus on their own
weapons programs -- US President Bush just signed the Syrian Accountability
Act which puts a spotlight on Syrian WMD -- so why not try to divert attention
Israel has had a frosty "Peace" with Egypt since 1979, and a not much warmer
"Peace" with Jordan since 1994. Israel has been in a "Peace Process" for
the last ten years with the Palestinians. That "Peace Process" has cost Israel
over 1,300 lives from Palestinian warfare. Although the military balance
vis-a-vis the Arab-Islamic world has shifted further toward Israel's favor
in the last couple of decades -- due to its growing technological edge --
Israel's "will to fight" or "staying power" has slowly been eaten away in
the last decade. Continuous guerilla war and terrorism from the Palestinians,
combined with a world-wide propaganda campaign, has put Israel into a defensive
posture, and caused its leadership to refrain from using its substantial
firepower. Now, the Arab-Islamic world is trying to pressure Israel to give
up its strategic arsenal as well.
According to the latest accounting -- September 2003 -- of the Jaffe Center's
"Middle East Military Balance," the Arab League states and Iran -- minus
Iraq -- vastly outnumber Israel in conventional forces; men under arms, tanks,
artillery, combat aircraft, transport aircraft, and helicopters. Let's ignore
their naval advantage for purposes of this discussion. Take a look at soldiers
-- both regular and reserves -- Israel has about 650,000 troops vs. 2,750,000
for the Arab League/Iran. Israel has 3,675 tanks and 3,900 artillery pieces,
against 15,075 tanks and 17,400 artillery pieces for the Arab League/Iran.
Despite Israel's highly touted air force, in numbers it's vastly outnumbered.
Israel has 537 combat aircraft, 64 transport aircraft, and 239 helicopters.
The Arab League/Iran combo has 4534 combat aircraft, 558 transport aircraft,
and 1897 helicopters.
In conventional terms, Israel is outgunned, period. And I haven't even taken
into account the greater Islamic world beyond Iran, or the threat of terrorism.
Israel's last line of defense is its non-conventional deterrent. Now it becomes
clear why those who would threaten Israel most, have joined the "Ban the
Israeli policy has always been that it will, "Never be the first state to
introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East," a policy of ambiguity. But
from Vanunu in the 1980's on, cracks have opened in the Israeli "plausible
denial" routine. Even Shimon Peres some years back, slipped, and implied
that Israel does have the bomb. Most estimates place it more precisely at
about 200 bombs on the low end, up to as many as 500-600.
In the last few years, Israel took charge of three German built submarines.
They liked them so much, that they requested Germany to sell them some more.
But due to reports that Israel had modified cruise missiles with nuclear
warheads to be launched from the subs, Germany declined. I don't have any
"inside" info on that, but I sure hope it's true. That would give Israel
the "strategic triad" of land, air, and sea launched nukes. Just what Israel's
"friends" need, to keep them at bay.
As long as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah elements, al-Qaeda, and whoever else
wants to destroy Israel; as long as Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and whoever,
continue their own WMD programs; as long as the balance of forces favors
Israel's enemies; Israel needs to continue to build up its own non-conventional
weapons capabilities, and be prepared to use them. Israel has a moral obligation;
in fact, it was created to make sure, a second Holocaust never happens.
Sure Israel should "Ban the Bomb." WHEN THE MESSIAH COMES!
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. His articles can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko.