News Release

Will the Nuclear Powers Please Stand Up?


This week, U.S. political statements and media reports about which countries possess nuclear weapons have commonly ignored or downplayed Israel’s nuclear weapons capacity. But exclusion of Israel from the list of countries with nuclear weaponry is inaccurate.

In the interest of accuracy, asking the Israeli and U.S. governments about the existence of an Israeli nuclear arsenal would be appropriate for diplomats and journalists.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire told the Institute for Public Accuracy today that it was crucial for Israel and the U.S. to come clean about Israel’s nuclear weapons capacity. She referred to the Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who in 1986 made public detailed information on Israel’s nuclear weapons capacity via the Sunday Times of London and was then imprisoned by the Israeli government for 18 years for doing so.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maguire said today: “I went to Israel in September and attended the hearings on the continuing restrictions on Mordechai. One of the arguments put forward was that he has secrets on nuclear weapons which impact the national security of Israel. Mordechai is not allowed to speak to foreigners or the media and is restricted to a small area. He has no secrets after 20 years because the whole world knows that Israel has nuclear weapons.

“The debate about Israel having nuclear weapons needs to be brought into the Israeli and international arena — Israel and the U.S. should acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons and it should sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. And of course, we should come clean that the arms race is being led by the U.S. and U.K. The U.S. should ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty so we can get out of this nuclear depravity.” Maguire founded the Northern Ireland Peace Movement, which is now known as Community of Peace People.
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Author of the forthcoming book Empire and the Bomb: How the United States Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World and With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion, and Moral Imagination, Gerson said today: “The U.S. government is threatening nuclear attacks — against seven countries as per the Bush Nuclear Posture Review — while providing military support to Israel, India, and Pakistan — all of which developed nuclear weapons outside of the NPT framework.

“As is now widely known, with French assistance following their disastrous 1956 invasion of Egypt, Israel has developed a nuclear arsenal which is estimated to contain between 200 and 400 of these weapons. Although President Kennedy attempted to challenge Israel’s efforts to build the A-bomb, since the Johnson years successive U.S. presidents have turned blind eyes to the arsenal whose existence the Israeli government refuses to confirm or deny. …

“In addition to addressing the underlying causes of conflict and tension in the Middle East, the surest ways to ensure that these conflicts do not spark nuclear catastrophe is to build on diplomatic proposals to create a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Such zones exist in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and now Central Asia. The refusal of the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states to honor their Article VI commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals and the legacies of U.S. nuclear blackmail remain the two greatest forces driving nuclear weapons proliferation today.” Gerson is Director of Programs of the American Friends Service Committee in New England.
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The U.S. government has apparently never acknowledged Israel’s arsenal.

The Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, was recently asked by Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy, “Do you know that Israel has nuclear weapons?” Negroponte replied “I don’t want to get into a discussion about Israel’s nuclear powers.”

When he was White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer was asked “Does Israel have nuclear weapons?” He replied: “That’s a question you need to ask to Israel.”

AP reported on Sept. 22: “More than a dozen Arab countries were blocked by a Canadian motion in their bid to have a vote on a resolution labelling Israel’s nuclear capabilities a threat on the final day of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual meeting.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167