Obama’s NPT deviation

Democracies must single out Iran for condemnation.

May 30, 2010 23:45
3 minute read.
Hillary Clinton a the NPT

Hillary Clintion at the NPT 311. (photo credit: AP)

Washington decided on Friday to join 188 other nations in singling out Israel’s purported nuclear capability for special censure.

At the end of a monthlong review conference of the four-decade-old Non-Proliferation Treaty, which takes place every five years, the signatories to the treaty agreed to put pressure on Israel. A conference would be convened in 2012 to discuss ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction. The planned conference would essentially be about Israel, since it is the only country in the region that is said to have nuclear capabilities. Treaty members announced an “action plan” stressing the “importance” of forcing Israel to abandon its policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities and to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

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Meanwhile, Iran, a signatory of the treaty that has repeatedly and brazenly flouted attempts by the international community to monitor its nuclear enrichment activities, was not even mentioned.

After the vote, several senior US officials attempted to play down its impact on Israel – some more than others. President Barack Obama, while welcoming the new 28-page nonproliferation final document as “balanced,” said that making the Middle East free of nuclear weapons depended on a “comprehensive and durable peace in the region.”

More outspoken was National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, who said the US has “serious reservations” about the proposed 2012 conference and called Iran’s conspicuous absence from the document “deplorable,” since the country “poses the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the region and to the integrity of the NPT.”

Essentially, Jones was rightfully lamenting his own country’s acquiescence to the hijacking of the conference by enemies of Israel – and of America – and the shifting of focus from the radical Shi’ite Iran to democratic Israel, which has a proven track record of responsible behavior with its supposed nuclear capabilities even in wartime.

THE VAST majority supporting the discriminatory resolutions against Israel was no surprise. Like in the UN system, the makeup of the NPT review conference lends wholly disproportionate weight to the dozens of developing, quasi-democratic nations of Africa, Asia and South and Central America – including almost 50 Muslim states – that make up the 118-strong Non-Aligned Movement, led on the nuclear-free Middle East issue by Egypt.

More baffling was the support lent to the initiatives against Israel by the US and other Western countries with deep-rooted democratic traditions that should have made the necessary moral distinction between Iran and Israel.

The Obama administration’s stance marks a worrying deviation from the Bush and the Clinton administrations’ policy of vetoing similar motions. And this change in policy comes at a critical time, not so much because it complicates Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week, but because it further weakens the case against Iran’s nuclear pretensions as Teheran comes closer than ever to obtaining the bomb. By allowing Israel to be singled out for special, extraordinary condemnation, the US is achieving a consensus on NPT policy, but it is undermining in the process the very purpose of this policy, which is to prevent the abuse of nuclear weapons, especially by radical Islamic elements, such as those with ties to Iran.

Focusing on Israel distorts reality. It equates Israel, a country surrounded by enemies that is desperately in need of the deterrence offered by the possibility that it might have nuclear capability, with Iran, a country led by religious extremists and a president despot who consistently threatens to “wipe Israel off the map,” denies the Holocaust and views America as a Satan-like entity that spreads immorality.

What’s more, America’s resolve to stop Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear aspirations cannot be taken seriously if Washington is willing to lend a vote to a resolution on nuclear proliferation that does not even mention Iran, and to do so after an entire month of discussions.

National Security Adviser Jones was right about his diagnosis that Iran “poses the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the region.” And it truly is “deplorable” that the US went along with the 188 nations that have lost their moral bearings and failed to single out Iran for condemnation. Too bad the US did not put its vote where Jones’s mouth is.

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