Iranian military parade showcasing missiles.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Whenever we assume that Iran’s chutzpah can get no more egregious, Tehran’s powers-thatbe spare no effort to prove us wrong.
Their calculated ploy is transparent – since the Islamic Republic’s nuclear project is now the focus of global attention, its leaders have cynically decided to turn the tables on their critics. In the guise of holier-than-thou protectors of humanity, Iran last Monday demanded that everyone else in possession of nukes desist forthwith from upgrading them or from lengthening the shelf-life of these weapons.
Needless to say, the sanctimonious tit-for-tat was spitefully in-your-face.
Quite expectedly, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told participants at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York that it is Israel which poses the greatest menace to the Middle East and indeed to the entire world due to its alleged nuclear stockpiles.See the latest opinion pieces on our Opinion & Blogs Facebook page
The monthlong conference is held every five years and is attended by NPT signatory nations. Israel never signed the treaty and remains officially mum on whether it does or does not possess a nuclear arsenal.
Zarif brazenly branded Israel “the single violator of this international regime [the NPT]...,“ and said, “one of the most important issues in the NPT review process is to look into ways and means of bringing about the Israeli compliance with NPT.”
And if that message failed to hit home, Zarif also aimed his barbs at NATO, asserting that Iran and the other 117 non-aligned NPT signatories are “deeply concerned by military and security doctrines of the nuclear-weapon states as well as that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”
Yet Israel, which Iran had time and again threatened to wipe off the map, was singled out for particular accusations of villainy. Iran shamelessly seized on a persistent Egyptian theme – an attempt to deprive Israel of whatever nuclear powers it is believed to possess and coerce Israel to sign the 1970 NPT.
In 2005, Egypt scuttled the NPT resolutions because they did not specifically target Israel’s purported nuclear weaponry. In 2010, Egypt, still under Hosni Mubarak, persuaded the US to address Israel’s nuclear capability in the final communiqué – making Israel the only state mentioned, unlike the openly nuclear Pakistan and India (which like Israel also had not signed the NPT).
Israel saw this as a sell-out by the Obama administration.
The conference said nothing about Iran but urged that Israel rid itself of nuclear arms and that it allow international inspectors to visit and monitor its installations.
What five years ago was considered as unprecedented hypocrisy by the NPT Conference has now magnified to truly grotesque proportions. If Iran was just an unnamed elephant in the room last time around, it has since grown emboldened enough to lay blame on others.
Presumably this is part and parcel of a scheme to deflect attention from Tehran’s nuclear ambitions while a deal that would allow it to develop atomic warheads is in the making.
On the face of it, Iran can claim moral equivalence. But this is a counterfeit claim. Iran and like-minded allies – to say nothing of the powers now negotiating a deal with the ayatollah regime – all know that Israel is as prudent a democracy as exists anywhere. If Israel actually has the bomb, then it has had it for more than 50 years – almost as long as the original “Atomic Club” members. In all that time no wrongful use was made.
Iran is the diametrical opposite to Israel – a regime professing extreme Islamist doomsday theology whose bywords are volatility and unpredictability. There’s no evenhandedness between a self-defending democracy and an expansionist, apocalyptic tyranny.
Moreover, it is outrageous to ignore the variety of WMD deployed in the internecine Arab massacres but speciously concentrate on the Middle East’s one beleaguered democracy. The implication is that democratic Israel can be pressured while autocratic Iran will get away with flagrant obstructionism. The good-guy will be disarmed while fanatic aggressors are armed to the teeth.
The danger is that bona fide democracies seem willing to play along with Iran and misdirect the frustration it foments by spotlighting Israel.