In the latest fit of diplomatic moral equivalence, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week visited Israel, attempting to persuade the Jewish state to declare formally its nuclear capability?eventually leading to a supposedly nuclear arms-free Middle East.
Under utopian scenarios, perhaps Israel?s unilateral disarmament could lead to lasting Middle East peace. But not when the Iranian mullahs?themselves a nuclear power or soon-to-be one?pledge ?Death to Israel? and when even one of the two Arab governments officially to recognize Israel, Egypt, openly foments rabid anti-Semitism.
Of course from Israel?s vantage point?knowing that almost the entire Arab world prefer its annihilation, and the rest probably wouldn?t mind it?the only answer would seem to be maintaining the status quo. Being the dominant nuclear power in the region is a powerful deterrent, not to mention a display of strength that engenders respect, though not affection, from neighboring states.
But what does Israel do as its enemies go nuclear? After all, the nature of nukes is such that a country doesn?t need to catch up to Israel in order to be a threat.
One fairly novel proposal comes from arms control expert Henry Sokolski. The eccentric and undeniably bright former Bush administration official believes that Israel could take a leadership role toward ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction through its own actions. (This and similar proposals will soon be on the website of his group, the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, at www.npec-web.org.)
Sokolski is not silly enough to suggest unilateral disarmament, nor is he na? enough to believe that Israel?s nukes are behind the motivations of Iran?s and Arab states? nuclear pursuits. But he does think Israel possesses incredible leverage as a result of its nuclear arsenal and could use that influence to force the hand of its Muslim neighbors.
The first step would be for Israel to mothball Dimona, its main nuclear facility. Sokolski?s reasoning is that since a facility as old as Dimona either has to be shuttered or rebuilt?at an overwhelming cost?Israel would benefit more by allowing the IAEA to monitor the mothballing and consequently altering the political dynamic.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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