How is Israel a Non-Nuclear Weapon State?

I just ran across this recent report by David Albright and ISIS.  Before proceeding, I just have to take this opportunity to share a chuckle of incredulity with others who have similarly noted Albright’s decision to change ISIS’ Twitter handle to . . . wait for it . . . @TheGoodISIS.  Talk about self delusion.  I’ve enjoyed some schadenfreude-filled moments lately seeing even the arms control wonk establishment bashing Albright on Twitter.

But back to the report. On the whole it’s innocuous enough – an accounting of civil HEU stocks around the world.  But what caught my eye is that on Page 5, Israel is listed in the portion of a table titled “Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) that received US-origin HEU.”   It made me wonder what possible criteria ISIS was using to categorize Israel as a Non-Nuclear Weapon State? Israel is of course not a party to the NPT, which is the legal source for the term Non-Nuclear Weapon State.  So Israel clearly can’t be called an NNWS based on its membership in that category of states parties the NPT.

I don’t know if Albright is trying to play some game of semantics here by reference to NPT Article IX(3), which defines a nuclear weapon state as “one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967,” and therefore by exclusion determining that Israel can’t be categorized as one of those, and so must be a non-nuclear weapon state.  But if that’s the game, Albright should note that this sentence in Article IX(3), read in full, makes it clear that this definition is only applicable “For the purposes of this Treaty . . .”  So this definition, and any negative extrapolation, does not apply to Israel.

So what about just a colloquial use of the term non-nuclear weapon state? If that’s what Albright means here, then he’s being pretty disingenuous in referring to Israel by this term.  It’s well documented that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, and willfully turning a blind eye to this evidence – if that is what he’s doing – just makes Albright look like he’s whitewashing over it.

Not very “scientific,” ISIS.


4 Comments on “How is Israel a Non-Nuclear Weapon State?”

  1. JP Zanders says:

    Dan, I do not know about scientific, but to avoid any possible confusion, I refer to DPRK, India, Israel and Pakistan as ‘nuclear armed states’, in distinction to the NPT terminology of NWS. I have noted that some other authors and (European) government officials tend to use a similar semantic distinction.

    At the same time, I cannot recall ever having referred to one of those countries as being NNWS. And for the same reason as for making the above semantic distinction: they are not party to the NPT.

    In Europe, fortunately, we do not see poisonous ideological invection clouding the core of the disarmament / arms control debates. Which does not mean that everybody sees eye-to-eye. But it is not what you say, it is how you say it, as my mum taught me many decades ago.

  2. FlamesInTheDesert says:

    Well considering the track record of the “good isis” [lol!] this is just par for the course,it really comes as no surprise that it would be towing the western line on “one rule for israel…etc..”,just what one would expect from a right wing think tank that masquerades as a “reputable institute”

  3. Marianne says:

    The referenced ISIS piece refers to the following countries as NNWS in one place or another: China, DPRK, India, Israel, and Pakistan in connection with transfers of HEU. It appears that all of the transfers were made before NWS and NNWS were defined in the NPT and before the referenced states had nuclear weapons, although dates are hard to assert with precision. US transfers to Israel were sent to a facility under IAEA safeguards and which remains under safeguards.

    A bit sloppy nomenclature, I would agree, especially lacking any explanation, but its nothing to get excited about and not worth a chuckle, I would say.

  4. Johnboy says:

    To be honest, I can’t be bothered to wade through yet another tedious Look-at-me! I’m-Jumping-Up-And-Down! Look! Look! publication from ISIS, and I don’t know why anyone else would want to either.

    Regardless, w.r.t. NNWS vs NWS the only question I would ask is this: is there actually a **point** to be made by making that distinction in Albright’s little compendium of open-source material?

    After all, the title is this (I did bother at least that much):
    “Tracking Inventories of Civil Highly Enriched Uranium
    National and Global Stocks, as of End 2014”

    Okey-dokie. Good for you David.

    But that information can simply be displayed in a single all-encompassing table by order of inventory, with the nation with the mostest at the top, and the nation with the leastest down the bottom.

    Why bother splitting that up into two tables i.e. one for the Nuclear-Haves and another for the Nukeless?

    Is it simply that two tables looks more impressive than one all-encompassing table?

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