News Release

Desmond Tutu: Biden Should End Israeli Nuclear Cover-up and Save Billions


The Biden administration is pressuring concessions from Iran regarding a renewed nuclear deal. Iran, which has no nuclear weapons, is under sanction by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the administration is expected to sign secret letters that it will not acknowledge Israel’s nuclear arsenal, facilitating the continuation of billions of U.S. dollars to Israel.

On New Year’s Eve, The Guardian published a piece by Archbishop Desmond Tutu titled “Joe Biden Should End the U.S. Pretence over Israel’s ‘Secret’ Nuclear Weapons: The cover-up has to stop — and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.”
Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, is a former archbishop of Cape Town and, from 1996 to 2003, was chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The piece states: “Every recent U.S. administration has performed a perverse ritual as it has come into office. All have agreed to undermine U.S. law by signing secret letters stipulating they will not acknowledge something everyone knows: that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal. …

“Israel in fact is a multiple nuclear weapons proliferator.” In addition to its own acquisition of nuclear weapons, “there is overwhelming evidence that it offered to sell the apartheid regime in South Africa nuclear weapons in the 1970s and even conducted a joint nuclear test. The U.S. government tried to cover up these facts. …

“Amendments by former Senators Stuart Symington and John Glenn to the Foreign Assistance Act ban U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that acquire nuclear weapons. … Another U.S. statute, the Leahy law, prohibits US military aid to governments that systematically violate human rights.”

Instead of applying the rule of law, Tutu wrote, “there has been an oral agreement since President Richard Nixon to accept Israel’s ‘nuclear ambiguity’ — effectively to allow Israel the power that comes with nuclear weapons without the responsibility. And since President Bill Clinton, according to the New Yorker magazine, there have been these secret letters. …

“The incoming Biden administration should forthrightly acknowledge Israel as a leading state sponsor of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and properly implement U.S. law. …

“South Africa learned that it could only have real peace and justice by having truth that would lead to reconciliation. But none of those will come unless truth is faced squarely — and there are few truths more critical to face than a nuclear weapons arsenal in the hands of an apartheid government.”

Available for interviews:

Kasrils was Minister for Intelligence Services in South Africa from 2004 to 2008 and was a leading member of the African National Congress during the apartheid era. He wrote the piece “I Fought South African Apartheid. I See the Same Brutal Policies in Israel” for The Guardian.

Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. He recently wrote the piece “Biden Could Reverse Six Harmful Israel Policies… With the Only Power That Stops Israel’s Lobby.” He notes: “Publicly known cumulative U.S. foreign assistance (excluding intelligence support and other covert funding) to Israel is on track to reach $295 billion.”