Obama Indirectly Endorses Israeli Nuclear Stance

Bridges For Peace (Link) - BFP Israel Mosaic Radio - Joshua Spurlock (July 6, 2010)

US President Barack Obama took the initiative to indirectly reaffirm the Israeli policy of nuclear ambiguity during his press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite signing on to a statement at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May that called for Israel by name to join the NPT, a step that could force them to give up any nuclear weapons. According to a transcript posted on the White House Web site, while commenting on their discussions about the nuclear non-proliferation conference, Obama said, �I reiterated to the Prime Minister that there is no change in US policy when it comes to these issues. We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it�s in and the threats that are leveled against it, that Israel has unique security requirements. It�s got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region.�

�And that�s why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel�s security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests.� Though Obama fell short of explicitly approving of Israel�s decision not to disclose whether or not it possesses nuclear weapons, his decision not to also attach to his statement a call for Israel to join the NPT stood out. While he may not accept Israel�s position, it appears the US will at the least not force the Jewish state to change their approach.

Though Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, they have so far refused to officially acknowledge them. The US has traditionally allowed this policy to continue, although this year�s NPT conference statement called into question American policy on the matter for the first time in years. Israel was singled out by name in the resolution that ended the NPT Review Conference, calling for them, along with India and Pakistan, to join the NPT, according to The New York Times. The 189 NPT nations also agreed to call for a conference by 2012 on ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Meanwhile, in a separate nuclear issue, Netanyahu spoke positively of Obama�s leadership in imposing sanctions on Iran over their nuclear program, including unilateral American sanctions, and encouraged other nations to apply similar sanctions of their own. Netanyahu again pointed to Iran�s energy sector as a prime target for sanctions.

Despite his highlighting of American leadership on sanctions, Netanyahu acknowledged it is too early to tell if the sanctions will stop Iran�s nuclear drive. �I think the sanctions the President signed the other day actually have teeth. They bite,� said Netanyahu. �The question of how much do you need to bite is something I cannot answer now. But if other nations adopted similar sanctions, that would increase the effect.�