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April 12th, 2010 at 10:30 am

Avner Cohen and Joseph Cirincione on the Nuclear Summit

The historic two-day nuclear summit is getting underway in Washington but not without a few, if not many, questions hanging over the event.

One of the most controversial developments in the days leading up to the meeting was Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision not to participate in the meeting. According to Avner Cohen’s op-ed in Haaretz published yesterday entitled Israel missing a chance at nuclear global legitimacy, Netanyahu pulled out “after being told that a number of Arab leaders would vilify Israel’s nuclear policy and refusal to sign the treaty.” Cohen, who is the author of the forthcoming book The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb, laments the prime minister’s decision and argues that it reflects the weaknesses of its policy of nuclear opacity.

Cohen concludes his op-ed writing:

Opacity is widely perceived as concealment, an act of covering up a secret that cannot be revealed to the public. Today, however, the secret is known to all, so it’s unclear why it must remain wrapped in ambiguity. In a world demanding that Iran speak the truth over its nuclear activity, ambiguity is seen as a bizarre relic from the past.

If Israel’s prime minister feels he cannot uphold the country’s opacity policy at a relatively friendly international forum, it seems this policy is in real trouble. If he is worrying about stumbling into a nuclear ambush and cannot rely on understandings on nuclear issues reached with the U.S. government, it seems Israel’s diplomatic crisis with Washington is much deeper than we had imagined.

Cohen also talked about Netanyahu’s decision in an interview with RT America:

Also commenting on the nuclear summit was Joseph Cirincione, author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. In an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition, Cirincione talks about how recent moves by the Obama Administration to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal and are key to preventing nuclear terrorism and to the success of this week’s summit. In the interview Cirincione says:

In order to convince other countries that they have to undertake new obligations to stop proliferation, to stop nuclear terrorism, you’ve go to show them that you are also undertaking your own obligations. It won’t work if they think this is part of a double standard, that we get to keep our nuclear weapons forever, make new improved weapons, but we’re asking them never to acquire and to stop other people from acquiring them. It just won’t work. Historically it hasn’t worked that way.

Listen to the interview here:

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