Obama’s Nuclear Wizardry and the Iran Factor


obama nuclear wizardry.jpg
Yesterday, I had a terrific exchange with Pete Dominick on his Stand Up with Pete Dominick Show on XM and Sirius Radio on President Obama’s nuclear summitry and what it all means.
He actually read a question from one of my commenters, POA (aka “Pissed Off American”) about Israel. I responded on the show and do think that Israel’s nukes matter and need to be confronted one way or another. Israel’s nuclear primacy invites regional balancing — and the notion that Israel will remain the only nuclear power in its theater is as unlikely in the long run as the US remaining an unchallenged nuclear weapons power at the dawn of the nuclear age.
I agree with President Obama that in the long run, all nations need to become part of a non-proliferation treaty regime, including Israel.
I am impressed with what the Obama White House has been doing with its nuclear summitry and had the lead opinion piece yesterday in Politico on the Nuclear Security Summit.
Here is the intro — but I hope folks read the whole thing (for the digital reader edition, click here and go to page 27):

Obama’s Nuclear Wizardry and the Iran Factor
Sir Francis Bacon once said, “In civil business, what first? Boldness. What second and third? Boldness. And yet boldness is a child of ignorance and baseness.”
At the Nuclear Security Summit President Barack Obama is presiding over in a transportation-gridlocked Washington this week, he is achieving a boldness — but not of bravado. Rather, it is one of calculated subtlety and strategic depth.
Obama has brought together 47 world leaders to get them to commit to safer nuclear materials management practices and prevent trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.
Obama is changing the direction of global gravity. He is also confronting Iran without the shallowness of bombing vs. sanctions vs. public humiliation that his administration has been flirting with. In the past week, and over the next month, Obama is showing what a U.S.-led world order should look like.
This is a huge shift, for the world hasn’t had much faith in America’s abilities to deliver. For example, in taking on strategic challenges like getting the Israelis and Palestinians on a two-state pathway; or ending the anachronistically simmering Cold War conflict in U.S.-Cuba relations; or persuading Iran to forgo a nuclear weapons track, most of the world has seen an America unable to achieve the objectives it sets out for itself.
In recent years, this has translated into a sense that the United States is a well-branded, globally important but underperforming country, whose influence is weakening — more like a national version of General Motors than Google.
Now, out of the blue, Obama is changing the game.

More here.
— Steve Clemons


25 comments on “Obama’s Nuclear Wizardry and the Iran Factor

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    But its good you knew who I was talking about when I mentioned the “blog bigot and liar”. A little introspection, once in a while, is good for ya. You should do more of it. Slithering doesn’t take a lotta work or mental effort, so its not like you’d be multi-tasking or anything.


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I haven’t “slithered” anywhere….blahblahblahblah…”
    Than you’re sitting still, ’cause if you’re moving, you’re slithering.


  3. nadine says:

    To the potty-mouthed thread moron (you know who you are): I haven’t “slithered” anywhere just because I happen not to read or answer a post until a day after it’s been posted.


  4. nadine says:

    I had forgotten Israeli/South African arms cooperation, since it was back in the 1970s. Israel helped South Africa with rockets and missiles, but both Israel and South Africa say the SA nuclear stuff was home-made, and there is nothing about the equipment that says otherwise.
    We know everything about the SA nuke program since they dismantled the program completely rather than give it to Mandela, who they feared would give it to Gaddafi. SA was an advanced country capable of doing the work on their own, so it’s hard to prove “proliferation”.
    Isn’t the word “proliferation” usually used for giving nuclear technology to countries who aren’t and couldn’t develop it on their own? Do we say Russia is “proliferating” when they sell nuclear technology to Iran?
    “Hands down, Israel was South Africa’s most important missile supplier. Pretoria got most of what it needed from Tel Aviv. But the secrecy surrounding its A-bomb efforts often forced Pretoria to make do with low-tech equipment. “These guys were immensely proud of what they achieved under sanctions,” says a U.S. State Department official, “they came up with their own home-spun technology.
    …South Africa’s nuclear program was run by its Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), whose scientists routinely culled open-source literature, including U.S. Navy manuals on nuclear weapon systems, safety and design. Pretoria’s quest for a bomb began in 1971. The AEC was charged with the most difficult task, producing the high-enriched uranium fuel. Armscor was asked to build the actual weapon. Once South Africa decided to “go nuclear,” it took only seven years to build an atomic bomb like the one the United States dropped on Hiroshima. The effort required about a thousand experts, but Dr. Stumpf says that “less than five or ten people had an oversight of the entire program.” Top secret clearance was only granted to persons born in South Africa with no other citizenship.
    … After Pretoria joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1991, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) started visiting South African nuclear plants to verify that Pretoria had accounted for all its secret bomb material. One of the lead inspectors recently told the Risk Report: “It was a tremendous experience…we enjoyed the highest level of cooperation that you could hope for…we were able to reconstruct the activity of the enrichment facility on a daily basis, and do forensic analysis of the records.”
    But no information was provided on the suppliers. The Agency’s mandate was only to assess the “correctness and completeness” of Pretoria’s nuclear material reports. “We couldn’t ask the source of the materials,” says one of the inspectors, “if we had, they would have said: None of your business.'” The South Africans were very careful about suppliers, says the inspector. “There was nothing we saw to indicate Israeli fingerprints,” he adds. ”


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Dr. Strangelove, Made in Israel
    by Philip Giraldi, April 15, 2010
    One would expect the Air Force


  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Notice how the blog bigot and liar slithers back under her rock every time someone exposes her horseshit?


  7. Paul Norheim says:

    “To whom has Israel proliferated nuclear technology…..” Part 2:
    South Africa.
    From a 2006 Guardian article:
    “Common aims
    Israel was openly critical of apartheid through the 1950s and
    60s as it built alliances with post-colonial African governments.
    But most African states broke ties after the 1973 Yom Kippur
    war and the government in Jerusalem began to take a more
    benign view of the isolated regime in Pretoria. The relationship
    changed so profoundly that, in 1976, Israel invited the South
    African prime minister, John Vorster – a former Nazi
    sympathiser and a commander of the fascist Ossewabrandwag
    that sided with Hitler – to make a state visit.
    Leaving unmentioned Vorster’s wartime internment for
    supporting Germany, Israel’s prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin,
    hailed the South African premier as a force for freedom and
    made no mention of Vorster’s past as he toured the Jerusalem
    memorial to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. At a
    state banquet, Rabin toasted “the ideals shared by Israel and
    South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence”.
    Both countries, he said, faced “foreign-inspired instability and
    Vorster, whose army was then overrunning Angola, told his
    hosts that South Africa and Israel were victims of the enemies of
    western civilisation. A few months later, the South African
    government’s yearbook characterised the two countries as
    confronting a single problem: “Israel and South Africa have one
    thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a
    predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.”
    Vorster’s visit laid the ground for a collaboration that
    transformed the Israel-South Africa axis into a leading weapons
    developer and a force in the international arms trade. Liel, who
    headed the Israeli foreign ministry’s South Africa desk in the
    80s, says that the Israeli security establishment came to believe
    that the Jewish state may not have survived without the
    relationship with the Afrikaners.
    “We created the South African arms industry,” says Liel. “They
    assisted us to develop all kinds of technology because they had
    a lot of money. When we were developing things together we
    usually gave the know-how and they gave the money. After
    1976, there was a love affair between the security
    establishments of the two countries and their armies.
    “We were involved in Angola as consultants to the [South
    African] army. You had Israeli officers there cooperating with
    the army. The link was very intimate.”
    Alongside the state-owned factories turning out materiel for
    South Africa was Kibbutz Beit Alfa, which developed a profitable
    industry selling anti-riot vehicles for use against protesters in
    the black townships.
    Going nuclear
    The biggest secret of all was the nuclear one. Israel provided
    expertise and technology that was central to South Africa’s
    development of its nuclear bombs. Israel was embarrassed
    enough about its close association with a political movement
    rooted in racial ideology to keep the military collaboration
    “All that I’m telling you was completely secret,” says Liel. “The
    knowledge of it was extremely limited to a small number of
    people outside the security establishment. But it so happened
    that many of our prime ministers were part of it, so if you take
    people such as [Shimon] Peres or Rabin, certainly they knew
    about it because they were part of the security establishment.
    “At the UN we kept saying: we are against apartheid, as Jewish
    people who suffered from the Holocaust this is intolerable. But
    our security establishment kept cooperating.”
    So did many politicians. Israeli cities found twins in South
    Africa, and Israel was alone among western nations in allowing
    the black homeland of Bophuthatswana to open an “embassy”.
    By the 1980s, Israel and South Africa echoed each other in
    justifying the domination of other peoples. Both said that their
    own peoples faced annihilation from external forces – in South
    Africa by black African governments and communism; in Israel,
    by Arab states and Islam. But each eventually faced popular
    uprisings – Soweto in 1976, the Palestinian intifada in 1987 –
    that were internal, spontaneous and radically altered the nature
    of the conflicts.
    “There are things we South Africans recognise in the Palestinian
    struggle for national self-determination and human rights,” says
    Kasrils. “The repressed are demonised as terrorists to justify
    ever-greater violations of their rights. We have the absurdity
    that the victims are blamed for the violence meted out against
    them. Both apartheid and Israel are prime examples of terrorist
    states blaming the victims.”
    There are important differences. Israel faced three wars of
    survival, and the armed struggle in South Africa never evolved
    to the murderous tactics or scale of killing adopted by
    Palestinian groups over recent years. But, from the 1980s, the
    overwhelming superiority of Israeli military power, the
    diminishing threat from its neighbours and the shift of the
    conflict to Palestinian streets eroded the sympathy that Israel
    once commanded abroad.
    White South Africa and Israel painted themselves as enclaves of
    democratic civilisation on the front line in defending western
    values, yet both governments often demanded to be judged by
    the standards of the neighbours they claimed to be protecting
    the free world from.
    “The whites [in South Africa] always saw their fate in a way
    related to the fate of the Israelis because the Israelis were a
    white minority surrounded by 200 million fanatic Muslims
    assisted by communism,” says Liel. “Also, there was this
    analysis that said Israel is a civilised western island in the midst
    of these 200 million barbaric Arabs and it’s the same as the
    Afrikaners; five million Afrikaners surrounded by hundreds of
    millions of blacks who are also assisted by communism.”
    When Israel finally began to back away from the apartheid
    regime as international pressure on the Afrikaner government
    grew, Liel says Israel’s security establishment balked. “When we
    came to the crossroads in ’86-’87, in which the foreign ministry
    said we have to switch from white to black, the security
    establishment said, ‘You’re crazy, it’s suicidal.’ They were saying
    we wouldn’t have military and aviation industries unless we had
    had South Africa as our main client from the mid-1970s; they
    saved Israel. By the way, it’s probably true,” he says.
    Forgetting the past
    Shimon Peres was defence minister at the time of Vorster’s visit
    to Jerusalem and twice served as prime minister during the
    1980s when Israel drew closest to the apartheid government. He
    shies away from questions about the morality of ties to the
    white regime. “I never think back. Since I cannot change the
    past, why should I deal with it?” he says.”


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “To whom has Israel proliferated nuclear technology…..”
    Israel sold advanced weapons technology to China. Point of fact, it was United States technology, and it was sold to China in violation of agreements we had with Israel. Further, the sales compromised the security of United States forces should they need to operate near or against China. And who the hell knows what Israel does with its nuclear technologies seeing as how the Israelis have not allowed inspections of their facilities. Considering Israel’s irrefutable history of espionage and false flag attacks against American interests, its asinine to trust these backstabbing sacks of shit steering the ship over there. We should trust this arrogant lyin’ asshole Netanyahu?? Whats that got us? A promise of a “settlement freeze” that ended up being a bald faced lie, thats what.


  9. Kathleen says:

    But Israel having them and not being subject to the same standards that they want their neighbors to abide by and then screaming at the top of their lungs about Iran while they refuse to sign the NPT. Who could blame Iran for not doing everything to get nuclear weapons. Although at this point there is no hard evidence to veryify they are.
    Israel’s weapons have and continue to be a threat to peace in the middle east. Fact


  10. nadine says:

    “Nadine you clearly do not get it. Israel started the arms race in the middle east. Fact”
    Who else joined it? Forty years on, no Arab country has nukes. Fact.


  11. Kathleen says:

    Mark Israel is swallowing itself. Everyone is tired of the hypocrisy. And by the way if you have never noticed the Jewish guys who wrote the Torah Bible had a huge agenda. One of the longest PR scams of all times. Some god told us that we were the chosen people. What a bunch of hogwash. Oh and by the way that same mythical god told us the land was ours and we wrote down what he said. Complete horseshit
    Nadine you clearly do not get it. Israel started the arms race in the middle east. Fact
    Carrol thanks for that I was wondering who that journalist was. Have never ever heard such a pointed question asked about Israel’s undeclared and un inspected nukes.
    Well Helen Thomas has asked a few
    Even though Obama softened the question immidiately at least it was asked


  12. TallyWacker says:

    Hey Carroll, I’ve been abducted by aliens before and believe 9/11 was an inside job too. Can I be your friend?


  13. Mark says:

    Nukes or no nukes, Israel will not be defeated by any earthly nation. These are GOD’s chosen people like it or not. You are either Jew or gentile regarless of where you live. Do you see how small Israel is compared to all it’s surrounding nations? There is a reason Israel has stood, and will continue to stand. Get with it people. America has been a very blessed and prosporous nation for our support of Israel. We WILL be sorry if we turn our backs on Israel. You’ll see when there is a mass exodus of Jews heading back to Israel. Just a matter of time then. It is written. Read it sometime. Which side of GOD’s wrath do you want to be on? Even Muhammad will bend a knee.


  14. neil says:

    The human rights conditions on the island are
    Close Guantanomo now!


  15. nadine says:

    “Israel having nuclear weapons “has not been a stimulus to an arms race in the middle east. It just hasn


  16. Carroll says:

    “Much of what Cirincione said was not cohesive when it came to Israel


  17. Carroll says:

    by Paul Woodward on April 13, 2010


  18. Carroll says:

    I don’t want this to fail, but it is going to take a long time, longer than Obama is in office so we are going to need following Presidents to push it. Hum..how likely is that?
    But at least it’s a formal conversation now.
    We DO need a nuke free world.
    Wonder what old Netanyahu was doing while everyone was meeting on nukes? Maybe sitting in his bunker gazing lovingly at his nukes, moaning .. we’re big,we’re bad, how come we can’t get no respect.


  19. JohnH says:

    Is this progress or the usual hypocrisy?
    William Pfaff notes of the conference, “Its conceptual basis is that the United States is a disinterested world leader, calling on others to do what is self-evidently in the general interest…The most important force at work among vulnerable third-world states is the desire to have a nuclear deterrent against invasion or attack by the United States (or in the Iran case, Israel), or by some other nation in the future.”
    Remove the threat of attack and the need for deterrence goes away. But will the US use its military more judiciously? Based on recent history, that’s doubtful at best.
    Instead, Obama makes the situation worse. Iraq was occupied on the basis of its supposed, but clearly non-existent nuclear weapons program (UN inspections were prevented from completing their investigations by the US invasion.)
    Now any country can be designated as a foe, face phony charges of non-compliance, and even NUKED, not just occupied. And, in the case of Iran, we see the phony charges being manufactured and trumpeted on a daily basis and a prelude to what?
    To make matters worse, Obama actively coddles other nations that are clearly non-compliant with the NPT–India, Pakistan and Israel. In the case of India, Obama has gone so far as signing commercial deals as long as India is “partly” compliant with the NPT.
    Apart from finally securing Ukraine’s nuclear materials, I fail to see how this conference advance the nuclear security of the world.


  20. Paul Norheim says:

    Yes, Kathleen. But I guess if Erdogan and others continue to
    shout out loud about this issue, the silence, even the whispering
    in Washington DC will sound more and more ridiculous…


  21. kathleen says:

    paul..a whisper getting through is better than nothing. I agree. But we need more than whispers at this point


  22. Kathleen says:

    Clemons “Now, out of the blue, Obama is changing the game.”
    We shall see on the Israeli front. Netanyahu kicks Obama/Biden/U.S. in the cajones by announcing the expansion of illegal housing in East Jerusalem, then pulls out of the Nuclear summit, ignores the freeze demands. Biden is late for dinner with Netanyahu, Obama leaves the Netanyahu dinner early Not looking good. Not looking too much like “wizadry” there.
    Israel continues to be in violation of UN resolutions (I believe more than any other nation) and Obama is pointing out resolutions that Iran is in violation of just does not look game changing.
    When Obama flips the only question asked during the press conference about the massive contradiction that Israel has not signed the NPT and continues to refuse to sign while demanding that Iran abide by the NPT which we know they signed long ago. And Obama does not press Israel publicly a bit more than he has. Not looking so game changing.


  23. Paul Norheim says:

    “He avoided the Israel question a bit when one of the only brave
    journalist asked about the contradiction.” (Kathleen)
    Well, at least they are now WHISPERING about the elephant in the


  24. Paul Norheim says:

    “He is also confronting Iran without the shallowness of bombing
    vs. sanctions vs. public humiliation that his administration has
    been flirting with.” (Steve Clemons)
    Is he?
    Except for specifically threatening to nuke them, I fail to see
    what is new with regard to Iran.
    Here is Flynt/Hillary Mann Leverett:
    “We have previously emphasized that the


  25. Kathleen says:

    I agree “wizadry” Inclusive..we need to get our nukes in order before we demand that others do the same. He avoided the Israel question a bit when one of the only brave journalist asked about the contradiction. Israel demanding Iran to abide by the NPT when they continue to refuse to sign on. Last president to push for inspections in Israel was President Kennedy.
    Obama did slip up and lie during that press conference when he referred to a nuclear weapons program in Iran as if there was solid and indisputable and internationally recognized evidence that would confirm the endlessly repeated and unsubstantiated claims by Ledeen, Gerecht etc.
    Obama referred to an Iran nuclear weapons program as if it exist. Someone should have called him out on it.
    But he was inclusive. All nations should sign onto the NPT. The U.S. should move first on reducing, inspections on our own facilities etc.
    Of course what he would not go near is how Israel’s and the I lobbies persistent and inflammatory threats towards Israel have made the situation worse not better. Not going near that one
    The Diane Rehm Show covers the Obama Nuclear Summit Joseph Cirincione Contradicts Himself On Israel


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