Israel has 90 nukes– but our leaders won’t say so because U.S. would have to cut off aid

Satellite imagery shows new construction at Israel's Dimona nuclear site (Planet Labs)

Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  December 23, 2021

Any realistic discussion of Iran’s nuclear program ought to include the glaring fact that Israel has 90 nukes. But acknowledging as much would trigger US laws against giving foreign aid to a country with unauthorized weapons.

It is really hard to believe, but: The United States has a keen interest in getting the Iran nuclear deal back in place, and it can’t do so because one small country doesn’t want us to. Our dear friend Israel says Iran is an “existential” threat, and our leaders listen to their leaders, who urge us to take military action against Iran over its nuclear program.

And meantime everyone in the American establishment hides the fact that Israel has nukes. At least 90 of them, according to experts.

Any realistic discussion of Iran’s nuclear program ought to include that glaring fact: Israel has 90 nukes. That statement ought to be boilerplate in any article. But our officials and media always leave Israel’s nukes out.

Here’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan going along with the lie Tuesday in Jerusalem:

Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear program poses a grave threat to the region and to international peace and security.  

Ian Lustick has just published an excellent piece at Smerconish.com about Israel’s falsehoods about Iranian nukes. He says the lie that Israel has no nukes is important because if the truth were told, all aid to Israel would be at risk. The disclosure, Lustick says,

would trigger the application of U.S. laws against giving foreign aid to Israel as a country with unauthorized nuclear weapons.  In domestic political terms, it is difficult to imagine any foreign policy move more costly than that. 

I.e., the Israel lobby exists to secure endless aid to Israel, and that includes liberal Zionist groups like J Street that have a big footprint in the Democratic Party. And AIPAC, which is about to spend a ton of money in political contests to “shore up the Washington consensus on Israel.” So the Democratic establishment is invested in the lie.

And Biden’s top aide, Jake Sullivan, is in Jerusalem, making nice to the rightwing Israeli Prime Minister, even as the P.M. destroys our blessed two-state solution and bullyrags us about Iran.

Grant Smith made this same point last summer. “Multiple US government agencies” have documented Israel’s nukes, but there is a gag order on their publicly acknowledging the truth because doing so would undermine foreign aid. But the result is a farce:

Israel and its surrogates have continued to feed Americans a rich banquet of justifications for attacking Iran on the pretext that it is on the verge of introducing the very weapons to the Middle East that Israel deployed long ago.

Another lie — Lustick says Israel doesn’t “genuinely” fear an Iranian nuclear attack. Israel is just trying to maintain regional “hegemony.”

Regardless of what many ordinary Israelis have been encouraged to feel about their country as a “one-bomb state,” neither Israeli security nor political elites have ever thought that if Iran has the bomb it will drop it on Israel.  Israel’s nuclear arsenal includes at least 90 warheads, enough plutonium for 100 more, and multiple advanced delivery systems. 

So, what really perturbs Gantz, Bennet, Netanyahu, and so many other Israelis who speak about Iran in such apocalyptic in frenzied terms?  Simply put, they fear the loss of Israeli hegemony.   An Iranian state capable of perhaps using a nuclear weapon would end Israel’s status as the confidently preponderant military power in the region..

Another lie is the oft-repeated line that Israel will take matters into its own hands if the world does nothing. “This is a charade.” But a charade with a purpose — to manipulate the United States, Lustick says.

Israel is not actually practicing for a war that none of its serious military experts think it could win. .. By pretending otherwise, Israel triggers fears in Washington that its uncontrollable ally will act in utterly destructive and dangerous ways.  The intention is to push the United States beyond whatever limits it has set on its willingness to pressure Iran toward regime change. And even if these scare tactics do not produce an American military solution to the Iranian problem, they can lead American negotiators to maximize demands on Iran, thereby minimizing chances for renewing the JCPOA [Iran deal]…

The U.S. is a willing pawn in this game because “politics is all” — meaning “the power of the Israeli lobby in domestic American politics.” Lustick says it is time to clear away the hypocrisy here because it is so dangerous.

[It is] all the more important for those of us not in positions of political or policy authority to make clear what really is and really is not at stake in the Israeli-Iranian confrontation.   We have had enough wars launched on false pretenses and for unattainable goals—Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq.  We don’t need another one in Iran.

Yes the stakes are huge. Israel is nudging us toward war, and it really is like the emperor’s new clothes, no one can say what is plain as your face, Israel is laden with nukes.

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006