News Release

Mideast Nukes: Interviews Available

Syrian President Bashar Assad told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph this week that elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the Mideast should include Israel’s nuclear arsenal. [Information on Israel’s arsenal is available at: www.msnbc.com/news/wld/graphics/strategic_israel_dw.htm.]

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has recently urged Israel to follow the example of South Africa and dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

The following nuclear policy analysts are available for interviews:

JACQUELINE CABASSO
Executive director of Western States Legal Foundation, Cabasso speaks and writes widely on nuclear weapons issues. She said today: “Although Syria didn’t make it into Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil,’ it is identified in the 2002 Defense Department Nuclear Posture Review as a potential U.S. nuclear target. Closer to home, Syria’s neighbor, Israel, is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons — described by The Economist as ‘the world’s worst kept secret’ and ‘the bomb that never is.’ Israel is believed to have as many as 200 or more deliverable nuclear and thermonuclear bombs, as well as chemical and biological weapons research programs and production capabilities…. In 1991, the [U.N.] Security Council stated that its requirements for the elimination of Iraq’s WMDs ‘represent steps towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction…’ And the importance of establishing a WMD free zone in the Middle East has been a central theme throughout the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty review process.”
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JOSEPH GERSON
Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace and Economic Security Program and the author of the book With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion and Moral Imagination, Gerson said today: “While U.S. attention is focused on the Libyan nuclear program — which was many years from the successful development and deployment of nuclear weapons — the U.S. conquest of Iraq, the arrangement with Libya and continuing U.S. government threats against Iran are leading to increased pressure for Israeli nuclear disarmament…. As long as the nuclear powers ignore or refuse to fulfill their Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty commitments to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals and continue to threaten their use — even first strike attacks — other nations will do what they can to equalize the balance of terror…”
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FELICE COHEN-JOPPA
Cohen-Joppa is the coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu. She said today: “Vanunu has been imprisoned in Israel for over 17 years for disclosing information about its secret nuclear arsenal to the London Sunday Times…. While waiting for the paper to verify his information, he was lured to Rome by a Mossad agent. From there he was kidnaped — drugged, chained and taken by boat back to Israel for a secret trial, where he was convicted of treason and espionage. The first 11 1/2 years of his 18-year sentence were spent in complete solitary confinement…. Repeatedly denied probation and parole over the years, he is scheduled to be released on April 22, 2004, but news reports last week confirmed that Israel is looking for a way to restrict his movement and apply conditions upon his release…”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167