Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal came under scrutiny today when Benjamin Netanyahu pulled out of the nuclear summit to be held this week in Washington. According to the Guardian’s Meir Javendanfar,
According to Israeli officials, he pulled out of the meeting after “learning that Egypt and Turkey may have been planning to use his appearance at the conference to call on Israel to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and to open its nuclear facilities to international inspection”.
Finally, it seems, the international community – after commendable pressure from Egypt and Turkey – are beginning to link Israel’s WMD to Iran’s nuclear programme. It has long been argued by Arab leaders that a nuclear-free Middle East is the best way to dissuade Iran from pursuing the bomb.
Seeing this I was reminded of an interview that Bashar al-Assad gave to the Daily Telegraph back in 2004. In it he declared that he would not get rid of Syria’s weapons of mass destruction (believed to be chemical, and possibly biological weapons) unless Israel does the same.
It seems that Assad could now steal a diplomatic coup if he once again raises this issue: publically offering to destroy Syria’s stockpile if Israel agrees to denuclearise. There are several advantages to this. Firstly it would give Syria the moral high ground in its war of words with Israel, highlighting the West’s double-standard to WMD in the Middle East, and putting even more pressure on Israel. Secondly it could strengthen relations with the US given Obama and Clintons’ recent advocacy of nuclear disarmament. Thirdly, as ever, it would draw attention to the often neglected issue of the Syrian-Israeli conflict. Finally, it would show support to the proposals of Syria’s ally Turkey and help the process of mending fences with the other advocate of the motion, Egypt.