The limits of wisdom?

Voices linking the proliferation situation with activities aimed at universal nuclear disarmament are disregarding reality.

Hillary Clintion at the NPT 311 (photo credit: AP)
Hillary Clintion at the NPT 311
(photo credit: AP)
The reemerging campaign to persuade/force Israel to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), although not new, is strange at best. One thing that can be said for Egypt, the initiator and real force behind this move, is that it has been consistent. Of all those joining the campaign one way or another, Egypt is probably best aware that Israel will not respond to these calls.
Israel would do so only if it were persuaded that joining the NPT was in its best interests. The multitude of letters, decisions and resolutions are not the best way to go about it. While Egypt may know this, at least some of the others give the impression that they  really expect Israel to bow to their wishes.
On the formal side, the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treatiesstates that “...the principles of free consent and of good faith andthe pacta sunt servanda [agreements must be kept] rule are universally recognized.”
Well, trying to force someone to join a treaty is certainly outside the requirement of “free consent.”
Shotgun weddings are not expected to last; they only serve to legalizethe offspring. Asking Israel to demonstrate its “good faith” to thosecalling on it to join the NPT is ludicrous in today’s world, with Irancalling for the destruction of Israel, Syria amassing chemical weaponsand trying to develop nuclear ones, and with rockets threatening almostevery part of the country.
And “agreements must be kept” is a sham where the NPT is concerned.With North Korea, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran as (caught) violators,and the multitude of states, which the world tends to forget, thatviolate Articles I and II of the NPT that require them “...[Article I]not in any way to assist... and [Article II] not to seek or receive anyassistance... to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons,”states that have not joined the treaty (India, Pakistan and Israel)would be naturally wary of it.
AND THEN comes the issue of discrimination. Although the principle of“equal justice for all” is usually applied to criminal law, it isdiscordant when the director-general of the International Atomic EnergyAgency writes a letter to his constituent states asking for ideas onhow to implement a resolution calling on Israel to join the NPT.Formally he was correct. But, taking his cue from the five permanentmembers of the UN Security Council, he should have mentioned that,although outside the scope of the resolution, there are two otherstates in the same geographical IAEA region (Middle East and SouthAsia) that are not party to the NPT – India and Pakistan – and the samequestion could be applied to them. Why the discrimination?
The variation behind the demand to join the NPT is the idea to reach anagreement and declare the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons,or even free of all weapons of mass destruction. Israel declared itwould be ready to do so when conditions are right;, when there arepeaceful relations in the region.
Peace, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said, is key tothis matter. Peace, in a way, is the formality. Trust must exist beforea country seriously weakens its security. Without trust, nothing oflasting value can be achieved.
Looking at the Middle East and South Asia, how can trust exist withIran developing nuclear weapons and, together with its affiliateterrorist organizations, threatening the existence of Israel? And themore practical question: Would Iran abandon its military nuclear ambitions? Could it be trusted to do so?
Realities do not seem to bother those who sit down and draftresolutions for the sake of political convenience, in the hope that atthe end of May, they will be able to say: This was a successful NPTreview conference.
It is perhaps not yet possible to predict the outcome of the conference. However, with Iran having  de factoveto power, the situation is quite clear. Some of the things notresolved during the NPT review conference will determine the long-termview of its results. The voices linking the proliferation situationwith the activities aimed at universal nuclear disarmament aredisregarding reality. No matter how you clothe it, the nuclearnon-proliferation body has never been so vulnerable. A nuclear Iranwill deal it a severe, if not a fatal blow.

The writer is a senior research associate at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.