'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Vanunu on Iran and Israel 

Here's an interview with Mordechai Vanunu from Australia's SBS radio. SBS introduces the piece as follows:

There are double-standards at play over nuclear proliferation, when the world focuses on Iran's nuclear program, while ignoring Israel's possession of nuclear weapons.

That's the view of convicted Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.

Mr Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years for treason and espionage in 1986 after exposing details of Israel's nuclear program to the media.

Despite being forbidden by the Israeli government from speaking to foreign media, Mordechai Vanunu tells Rebecca Henschke, about what he describes as dangerous double-standards.

The point can't be made enough.

The biggest threat caused by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is to Israel. As it stands, Israel is the only nuclear power in the Mideast proper; its hegemony over the area is rooted in this fact, and also of course it's rooted in Israel's special relationship with the US. But if Iran were to develop nukes, this simple dynamic would be a thing of the past and Israel would be forced to maintain its military superiority through strictly conventional means, possibly a very expensive proposition. Here's Roger Howard on the subject in an old piece from antiwar.com:

For any country, particularly one plagued with economic difficulties, the prospect of higher defense spending is always an alarming one. In the 1960s, for example, Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan argued passionately for the development of an Israeli nuclear weapon because without one they would be caught up in an increasingly hopeless arms race against Arab neighbors with generous Soviet supplies and with buoyant economies that would more easily allow them to fund such rivalry. An Israeli bomb, argued Peres and Dayan, would instead render such expenditure unnecessary until, or unless, their Arab enemies eventually caught up and developed their own.

Although there is a wide gulf between the Shi'ite Persians and the Arabs, in Israeli eyes the development of a bomb by the Iranians, whose hard-line clerics have always screamed abuse at the Jewish state, would remove this long-held nuclear advantage at a single stroke. In one sense Israel's position would revert back to that of the mid-1960s, when it was forced to rely only upon the superiority of its conventional forces.

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