Sunday, August 21, 2011

Danny Schechter on Israeli Nukes and Nuclear-free Middle East

Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:26PM GMT

Interview with Danny Schechter, an editor with the

PressTV - 'Nuke-free ME requires Israel's will':

Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano says he is planning to set up a meeting between Israeli and Arab leaders to discuss nuclear-free Middle East.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Danny Schechter, an editor with the, to share his thought on the issue.

'Nuke-free ME requires Israel's will':

PressTVGlobalNews on Aug 20, 2011

Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano says he is planning to set up a meeting between Israeli and Arab leaders to discuss nuclear-free Middle East.

Interview with Danny Schechter, an editor with the

Comment: I don't know what the nature of the meeting will be between Arab and Israeli "Leaders", but will it be a pretext for normalization of relations with Israel under a pretext of fruitless talks that drag on for decades?

The following is the transcript of the interview:

Press TV: Even the IAEA has failed to convince Israel to sit at the table and talk to Arab countries about its nukes and controversial nuclear facilities. What is your assessment of the role the IAEA has played so far?

Schechter: Well, the IAEA would like to settle this problem in some way. They would like to see Israel make some concession, at least in terms of information, some interested of exploring the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and some role for Israel under the terms of that treaty.

But the hardliners in Israel don't want that. They don't want to even admit that they have as many as 300 nuclear weapons. They have been hostile to joining the nuclear Non-Proliferation accord. And so this is some maneuver to try to have some sort of media under the ages of a peace nuclear free Middle East.

Now, is that possible? They would point to success in other parts of the world, in the Pacific, in South America, in other places that have nuclear-free zones, but can that work in the Middle East remains to be seen. It requires political will on Israel's part, as well as on the part of the Arab states. And so far we haven't seen that will.

Press TV: Israel has chosen to be silent on the issue of its nuclear arsenal. Do you see the same reaction from the world's major powers towards similar cases in other parts of the world?

Schechter: Well, of course not. You know, Israel has always been an exception in a way. It has always seen itself as an exception; it has always seen itself beleaguered, on the defensive, under attack, you now, with a PR campaign to paint itself as the victim in all the conflicts in the Middle East.

So, of course in this issue as well Israel basically takes the position of not saying anything about all of this as opposing the acknowledging the presence of nuclear weapons, which the world knows are there.

The United States has been reluctant to actually push Israel to disclose all of this, despite the fact that many Arab states see this as hypocrisy, as double standards and the like, but Israel has been able to maneuver around all of this on the claim that it is under attack, or it's under threat, or risk of attack.

So, it's been impossible to have a break through. Perhaps this meeting could be the start of a new process. Let's be hopeful, let's hope it could, but it doesn't look that way.

Press TV: Israel is not a signatory to the NPT and has not allowed any inspections of its nuclear facilities. How is it going to affect the idea of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East?

Schechter: Well, Israel has gone beyond that. It has actually prosecuted nuclear scientists in Israel who have exposed the nuclear stock pile and the nuclear program there. They have actually tried to suppress information about this.

It will take some sort of change of heart in Israel, some willingness, to take some new initiative on this issue, and so far we have seen it, in part because of some incidents like the ones that took place this week, pressure in Israel by an angry public, and also a lot of activity by the Israeli lobby to try to stop Palestinians asking for or getting a recognition for their own state.

I have already seen a lot of information from parts of the Israeli lobby saying we are against this; we want a two-state solution, which is ironic because for years they opposed any solution. So can we be hopeful here? I don't know, but let's give the nuclear agency a chance, let's give peace a chance.

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