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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Asleep at the wheel in Jerusalem

What the heck was the foreign ministry thinking?

If you are a country that purports not to have nuclear capabilities why the heck would you try to muscle your way in to an arrangement to be allowed to transfer nuclear technology without having signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty? And why would you do so in a way that jeopardizes an exception being sought for one of your allies and being promoted by your biggest ally?

That's apparently what Israel's incompetent foreign minister has done according to an article in this morning's Washington Post:

Israel has pushed a key group of nations engaged in nuclear trade to adopt new guidelines allowing the international transfer of nuclear technology to states that have not signed on to nonproliferation rules, and the move may complicate the Bush administration's efforts to win an exemption for India to engage in such trade.

Documents outlining Israel's proposal were distributed to the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in March and have circulated on Capitol Hill in recent days, just as the administration is pushing to clear the final hurdles blocking a groundbreaking agreement with India.

Countries such as India, Israel and Pakistan that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are prohibited from participating in international nuclear trade, including buying reactors, uranium fuel or yellowcake.

Israel, which has a small nuclear program, has not confirmed that it has nuclear weapons, saying only that it would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Estimates of its stockpile range from 75 to 400 weapons.

The Israeli presentation, made in a "nonpaper" that allows for official deniability, was offered in the context of the NSG's debate over India's bid for an exemption, according to a March 17 letter by the NSG's chairman. Among the nations that have not signed the treaty, only India and Israel would qualify for admission to the NSG under the Israeli proposal.

Let me guess: the country's nuclear suppliers (if there are any it is highly unlikely that they are non-governmental) said they would vote for Kadima Achora if they had the right to transfer technology? The Finance Minister decided selling nuclear technology would be a good source of revenue? What the ^%$# were these people thinking?

Delays in winning approval for India would be troubling for President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who view the pact as an important part of their foreign policy legacy. The deal is stirring controversy in India while Congress must still give approval, making delay until an election year potentially fatal.

Reflecting that concern, the Bush administration is rejecting the Israeli proposal. "We view the India deal as unique and don't see it as a precedent for any other country, including Israel," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

I know: Why don't we drop this in return for Bush dropping the 'peace conference'? That's the only justification I can invent for Israel sticking its nose into this story.


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