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Come Out of the Nuclear Closet

Author: Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow
March 8, 2012
New York Times

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Israel has been a nuclear weapons state since May 1967, when Prime Minister Levi Eshkol ordered the assembly of two nuclear devices to be driven to the Egyptian border, in the event that Arab troops defeated the Israeli forces. Over the past 45 years, Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, place its civilian nuclear program under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, or even acknowledge that it has the bomb. Instead, Israeli officials such as Prime Minister Netanyahu have maintained, "We won't be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East."

It is time for Israel to come out of the nuclear closet.By maintaining this fiction, Israel has pigeonholed itself as an international pariah, allowing adversaries and the nonaligned movement to use Israeli intransigence as an excuse to slow progress on nuclear nonproliferation objectives, including preventing a nuclear Iran.

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