Monbiot: Iran isn't starting an atomic arms race, it's joining one

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

I've posted a number of pieces by environmentalist George Monbiot on the site in recent times, mostly because his warnings about ecological catastrophe and nuclear war are proving alarmingly accurate. Once way out on the fringe of politics, Monbiot is now a serious figure in political and environmental journalism, and for good reason. Monbiot is about as clear and concise as they come, unraveling complex issues in an easy to understand style without lecturing the reader. If ever you want to understand how dire our environmental situation is, browse through some articles on his website. It's not always pleasant, but you'll feel a lot more informed about some of the problems we face.

Here is his latest article on nuclear weapons in the Middle East:

"George Bush and Gordon Brown are right: there should be no nuclear
weapons in the Middle East. The risk of a nuclear conflagration could
be greater there than anywhere else. Any nation developing them should
expect a firm diplomatic response. So when will they impose sanctions
on Israel?

Like them, I believe that Iran is trying to acquire
the bomb. I also believe it should be discouraged, by a combination of
economic pressure and bribery, from doing so (a military response
would, of course, be disastrous). I believe that Bush and Brown - who
maintain their nuclear arsenals in defiance of the non-proliferation
treaty - are in no position to lecture anyone else. But if, as Bush
claims, the proliferation of such weapons "would be a dangerous threat
to world peace", why does neither man mention the fact that Israel,
according to a secret briefing by the US Defence Intelligence Agency,
possesses between 60 and 80 of them?

Officially, the Israeli
government maintains a position of "nuclear ambiguity": neither
confirming nor denying its possession of nuclear weapons. But everyone
who has studied the issue knows that this is a formula with a simple
purpose: to give the United States an excuse to keep breaking its own
laws, which forbid it to grant aid to a country with unauthorised
weapons of mass destruction. The fiction of ambiguity is fiercely
guarded. In 1986, when the nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu handed
photographs of Israel's bomb factory to the Sunday Times, he was lured
from Britain to Rome, drugged and kidnapped by Mossad agents, tried in
secret, and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He served 12 of them in
solitary confinement and was banged up again - for six months - soon
after he was released."  To read the full article, click here.