Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Israeli Atomics VIII.

This is coolbert:


14. As I have said before, Israel continues to this day to follow a policy of ambiguity and opacity regarding nuclear weapons.

This is obviously a well thought out strategy. But why is it pursued with such vigor over the many decades now?

Hard to say exactly?

I have mentioned the ace up the sleeve. Make the enemy guess, "does he have it or does he not have it?" Well, this is one way of looking at it.

But does it still make sense?

Nuclear weapons have always been seen as a deterrent.

Just the thought of use is considered such an escalation of hostilities that this [the thought] is quite often enough to bring parties to the bargaining table.

The potential use of such weapons brings a dimension to warfare that potential users are not willing to bear. So deterrent is the key.

"You threaten my survival and you will die too!" is the philosophy embedded in the nuclear policy of card holding members of the world's nuclear powers.

You want your potential adversaries to know you have the bomb and are willing to use it. Ambiguity and opacity does not necessarily fit into this equation!

Shimon Peres is the man credited for acquiring the Dimona reactor from the French and with spurring the Israeli nuclear program. Here is what the exchange between Peres and President Kennedy in the early 1960's supposedly went like:

"JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Forty years ago a flustered Shimon Peres faced off with U.S. President John F. Kennedy on a secret seen as key to the Jewish state's survival, and got away with saying next to nothing. "

An aged Shimon Peres now President of Israel. Mr. Peres negotiating with the French in 1955 to obtain a nuclear reactor, processing facility and weapons delivery system!

"Kennedy began bombarding me with questions. Suddenly he says, 'Are you making an atom bomb?' I told him, 'Mr. President, I can promise you one thing: Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East," Peres recalled in the recent documentary film 'A Bomb in the Basement.'"

"That sidestep by Israel's veteran statesman evolved into a strategy of ambiguity straddling two national needs -- to strike fear into numerically superior foes while calming global jitters at any doomsday saber-rattling in the volatile Middle East."

"'We chose uncertainty, which afforded deterrence as far as the Arabs were concerned and convenience as far as our friends were concerned,' Peres said."

"Critics insist the policy -- enforced at home by military censors and abroad by agents who, in one case, abducted an Israeli whistleblower -- is counterproductive, breeding speculation that it could spur a regional arms race."

"The director of a Washington-based watchdog group likened Israel's 'opacity' to that of the Soviet Union in the Cold War, saying this hastened the U.S. nuclear programs and increased tensions."

"'As it turned out, the Soviets were not so well-stocked,' said Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association. 'Ever since, it has been proven that greater knowledge about different nations' nuclear weapons generally leads to greater responsibility.'"

"Daniel Seaman, director of the Israeli government press office, who liaises between the media and the security services, disagrees."

"'Israel won't discuss non-conventional capabilities, but it wants to keep the enemy guessing,' he said. 'Ambiguity is not all about denial. Speculation also makes for deterrence.'"

And with regard to the Israel nuclear firing submarines, this comment has also been made as to the validity of "expert" opinion regarding the versatility of these subs as a deterrent weapon:

"There may be another element in common with the Iraqi nuclear test story, besides the common origin in the Sunday Times. The Israeli story (the original version quoted IDF sources) could be deliberate disinformation, to convince Iran or other countries in the region that Israel is deploying a nuclear capability off their coasts. As with the earlier story, one need not actually have the weapon if your enemy believes you do."

To which I would say, well, in the case of the Israeli, it is almost without question that Israeli does possess nuclear weaponry in abundance and would not hesitate to use those weapons if appropriately threatened. While "ambiguity and opacity" may have served a purpose at one time, I hardly think it is worthwhile to pursue this course further into the future.




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