Joel Mowbray

?Israel could then announce how much fissionable material it has produced and put it under escrow (in Israel) with a country it trusts, such as the U.S.,? Sokolski says.  The idea would be that by taking the moral lead, the Jewish state would force countries such as Algeria, Egypt, and Iran into the diplomatic hotseat?all without Israel having to engage in formal talks or negotiations with Iran or Arab nations.

He argues that with US and EU coordination, even Russia can be cajoled into pressuring Iran to start behaving better.  More than anything, though, Israel taking the lead toward reduction would set the political trajectory for Iran and the Arab world in the right direction. 

?There are no guarantees of results, but boy, the heat sure would be intense, much more than it is right now,? Sokolski notes.

What about stateless terrorists?  Sokolski argues that the only way terrorists could get nukes is from a state, and Israel?s nuclear arms wouldn?t be much of a deterrent for terrorists anyway.

Sokolski maintains that all this could be done while preserving the longstanding policy of nuclear ambiguity.  Though the rest of the world knows Israel has nukes?in large part because of top-secret material leaked in 1986 by Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu?making such an announcement would send unnecessary shockwaves.

Though it may not force the hands of Iran and Arab states, as even Sokolski admits, the proposal nonetheless merits serious consideration, particularly since Israel would still maintain its arsenal.  But even if every bad actor is pressured into playing nice, inspections are inherently imperfect.  Iran has already duped the IAEA, for example, and it continues to openly flout the watchdog agency.

The problem is simple: tyrannies can?t be trusted.  Since even the best of inspections are imperfect, trust has to be at the core of any such agreement. 

Arab tyrants have a lethal history of using chemical weapons?Iraq against Iran and Egypt against the North Yemenis?and Israel?s nukes may have been the primary deterrent that kept Saddam from launching chemical-laced Scuds at Tel Aviv during the Gulf War. 

But history also tells us that free societies?of which Israel stands as the Middle East?s sole representative?don?t develop WMDs for offensive purposes.  South Africa, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina all shuttered their WMD and/or nuclear programs upon becoming democracies in the 1980?s.

The only true solution, then, is something over which Israel ultimately has little control: the spread of freedom in the Middle East. 

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, 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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