Friday, March 2, 2012

Clouds of ambiguity

Once upon a time there was a country in the Middle East which took the decision to obtain nuclear weapons at all costs, establish secret uranium enrichment facilities, and also develop sophisticated missiles which could deliver nuclear devices over long distances. But all this was categorically denied.

The President of the United States definitely did not like it. He thought the United States should firmly intervene and put an end to this nuclear project. The President, whose name was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, addressed sharply  the leader who had initiated the nuclear program, whose name was David Ben Gurion, and also to the man in charge of  that program, who was called Shimon Peres. The matter did not come up in the media, but behind the scenes the conflict escalated. The Americans demanded to inspect what was going at the Dimona nuclear facility. The government of Israel, for its part, found all kinds of creative tricks in order to prevent such an American inspection.

After President Kennedy was assassinated, his successor, Lyndon Johnson, reached a tacit agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. The government of Israel announced that "Israel would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East", and this was repeated by all later Israeli Prime Ministers, and just this evening President Peres, the founder of the Dimona Pile, repeated it yet again.  For its part, the U.S.  had long since stopped plaguing Israel about the nuclear issue.

Exactly what is behind this cryptic declaration, so often repeated and reiterated? According to quite a few of the international media reports, the State of Israel indeed does not possess nuclear weapons. The State of Israel merely holds a stock of nuclear weapon parts and components, none of which can in itself explode or cause any harm to anyone. True, if ever the government of Israel gives the order, it would take about an hour or two to assemble the pieces and make of them real bombs, and another half hour would be required to place the bombs on missiles and send them off to any designated target. But so far, this did not happen. So far, indeed, Israel had not been the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. This is called "nuclear ambiguity".

And perhaps this is the solution, the way to defuse the escalation,  avert the coming war of which so much has already been talked about. Just let the Iranians learn from Israel. Let them also undertake to maintain a nuclear ambiguity, and solemnly declare that Iran will also not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Just that, an ambiguity in return for an ambiguity, and we can all live happily ever after.