Israel & the Bomb (Anglais) Broché – 15 octobre 1999
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
Avner Cohen's "Israel and the Bomb" is such a book, and, despite some structural flaws it is a well written one. The main focus is not really Israel's Weapons of Mass Destruction, but Israel's nuclear policies, particularly vis a vis the United States. This is the story of Israel's responds to US pressure with two similar but distinct strategies, which Cohen designates "Ambiguity" and "Opacity".
In late 1960, the US government came to realize that Israel was constructing in Dimona a large scale nuclear reactor. The uncovering of that Israeli state secret led to various Israeli announcements that Israel had no intention of building Nuclear WMDs. On the 21st of December, 3 days after a New York Times front page story about Israel's Reactor in Dimona, David Ben Gurion made what is still the only Prime Ministerial speech in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) about its Nuclear Policies, stating that the Reactor is meant for peaceful uses only (p.128).
The Eisenhower administration seemed initially unwilling to pressure Israel about its nuclear facilities, but following the exposure it did demand answers about Israel's plans. In a meeting with US Ambassador Ogden R Reid, David Ben Gurion stated that the Plutonium from the reactor will be returned to the manufacturing country, that Israel will allow visits of scientists from friendly countries in the reactor, but not international inspections, and that Israel did not plan to construct a third nuclear reactor. He also denied any intentions to construct a nuclear bomb (pp. 130-133).
When John F. Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States, US policy became hostile to Nuclear Proliferation, and Kennedy started a drive that ended in the 1968 Non Proliferation Treaty. Therefore, his policies towards Israel were meant to assure that Israel was not constructing Nuclear weapons. Since Israel was doing just that, the clashes were all but inevitable.
US Scientists started to inspect (the US's term; Israel preferred "visit") Dimona in 1961. Despite the US demand for 2 such visits per year, Israel's duck-and-weave policy never allowed more then one single day visit per year.
The US continued to pressure Israel, especially towards the end of Kennedy's administration. In April of 1963, Kennedy arranged an unplanned meeting with Shimon Peres, the architect of Israel's reactor in Dimona and then the deputy minister for defense, in which Peres first articulated (apparently spontaneously) Israel's formula about Nuclear weapons "Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the middle east" (p. 159). Towards the end of Ben Gurion's prime ministry, and Kennedy's presidency, the ground rules for the "ambiguity" policy of Israel were set: Israel stated that it had no intentions to construct nuclear weapons, and it allowed US visitors, albeit in a lesser frequency then the US desired. Ben Gurion's resignation and the assassination of Kennedy meant that their predecessors would have to continue, and refine, "ambiguity" as Israel's policy and US's response.
The main change in subsequent US-Israeli relationship was Israel's increased interest in purchasing conventional weapons from the US. Strangely, Israel and the US switched roles in these two dialogues. Regarding Nuclear weapons, the US kept pressuring Israel to allow more inspections, and to authorize the US to share its belief in Israel's peaceful intentions, while Israel evaded. In the weapons front, Israel kept asking to buy weapons, while the US tried to evade and delay. Neither side wanted to connect the subjects, because Israel was anxious not to disclose its intentions, while the US feared that pressuring Israel by withholding conventional weaponry would only further commit it to the nuclear option (p. 272). Unlike the Kennedy administration, Lyndon Johnson seems to have been willing to accept Israel's nuclear plans, as long as they were not public. Thus "ambiguity" started to give over to "opacity" (p. 276).
Chiefly, "Opacity" meant the acknowledgement of Israel as a de-facto Nuclear power, provided that Israel made few outspoken references to its nuclear capacities. Late in the Johnson administration, the President was unwilling to tie the sale of Phantom jets to Israel to Israel's signing the Non-Proliferation Treatment. Israel's then ambassador to the US, Yitzhak Rabin, defined Israel agreement not to "introduce" nuclear weapons to the Middle East as an agreement not to test it (p. 409). By then Israel clearly possessed nuclear weapons. Under Nixon, the US effectively gave up contesting that definition, and gave up the increasingly embarrassing inspections of the Dimona reactor. On the 18th of July, 1970, the New York Times announced that Israel was a nuclear power, and although both Israel's official spokespersons and the State Department denounced the article as "speculative" and "inaccurate", neither denied it (p. 434).
Avner Cohen's book tells the story of the creation of the Israeli bomb, and the relations between Israel and the US is just one part of this story. Yet it was the Israeli-American relationship that above all defined Israel's continued policy of Opacity, still intact almost 35 years after that New York Times news story. In the afterwards, Cohen calls for a reconsideration of Israel's nuclear policy, and is encouraged by the new openness of public discourse about it. Yet even if Israel's policy was chiefly designed in response to US pressure, the bomb was build because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In that conflict, it often seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.