By Iftikhar A Khan

The frenzy of western media, led by the jingoistic American media, against Iran and its nuclear project has a striking similarity to Iraq's so-called weapons of mass destruction in 2003. The US-led invasion of Iraq aimed at divesting it of WMDs, removing Saddam Husein from power, and lastly, the one always noble – freeing the Iraqi people from Iraqis themselves. A similar pattern would follow in Libya and now afoot in Syria. The CIA in its report in 2005 declared that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. However, Iraq remains occupied; more than 1.5 million Iraqis out of 30 million of its population have lost their lives, and war clouds have begun to mushroom over Iran.

Amid thunder of war drums against Iran, Barack Obama has vowed not to allow it build a nuclear weapon. While the US operates overtly, Israel operates covertly. Despite Iran's repeated assurances that its nuclear program is only meant to generate energy sources, Mossad has assassinated five Iranian nuclear scientists, including Professor Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan assassinated on 11 January. While possession of nuclear weapons by any Muslim country is an anathema to the west, what's Israel up to visa-a-vis its nuclear weapons of mass destruction?

Israel hasn’t signed the Nuclear Arms Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has consistently maintained a policy of ambiguity about its nuclear arsenal by neither accepting nor denying its possession. The Jewish state had begun its quest for nuclear weapons since its inception in 1948. In 1956, France provided Israel with an 18-megawatt nuclear reactor that, after Israel's invasion of Egypt in 1956, was upgraded to 24-megawatt. The reactor France provided was erected at Dimona, in Negev desert, and has since remained functional, to which the UK, IAEA, and US are privy. France even provided Israel with heavy water it purchased from Norway thus breaching the assurances France gave to donors for not passing it on to a third country.

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Dimona is not subject to international inspections or safeguards. According to the Federation of American Scientists, Israel had achieved nuclear capability by 1960. Reportedly, it now possesses about 400 nuclear devices of varying types, ranging from neutron bombs, tactical nuclear weapons to suitcase bombs meant for restricted war zones. Thus, Israel possesses more nuclear weapons than the UK – a recognised nuclear state and signatory to the NPT.

Israel regards Iran's intended nuclear capability a threat to the region while in reality it’s the Jewish state that manipulates US Middle East policy and is a threat to its neighbouring states. Iran has refused to submit to US pressure regarding its nuclear program because it has already seen the fate of Iraq and Libya. Iran also draws moral courage from North Korea's defiance of American pressure to give up its nuclear and missile technology.

Washington’s negotiations with the pariah state to quit its nuclear weapons program have led nowhere. Only unified nations can afford to defy Western onslaught against them. Iranian and North Korean nations are intrinsically cohesive. Both would rally behind their respective leaderships if their territorial sovereignty is threatened, which unfortunately is not true for us. And the blame must go to successive Pakistani leaderships, both civil and military that have taken turns in the past. A dervish, Ahmedinjad, is an inspiring spirit for his people while another dervish, Mr Gillani, who spends most of his time changing his French suits, falls short. Such is our fate.

There is no doubt about Israel possessing WMDs. Recall, Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician, who first blew the whistle on the Jewish State's nuclear plans in 1986 by presenting evidence about Dimona "Manganese Plant" to The Sunday Times. His information was complete with pictures of 200 nuclear bombs ready for use. However, he succumbed to human frailties when a female Mossad agent of stunning beauty lured him from London to Rome where the agents drugged him and carted him away to Israel. He was tried and given eighteen years in prison, twelve of which he endured in solitary confinement, until released in 2004.

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Why the international community doesn’t point fingers at Israel's stockpile of nuclear arsenal? Is it because Israel is an extension of the US in the Middle East or because the Jewish state, according to John Pilger, acts as US ‘hitman’ in the heart of the Arab world? When John Kennedy was elected president, he asked the Israeli prime minister what he could do for Israel since he had been elected to the white house with the support of the Jewish community in the US. Such has been the influence of the AIPAC and other Jewish lobby groups on the white house.

The Muslim states, nevertheless, have as much right to develop nuclear weapons to protect their sovereignty as Israel has. North Korea and Iran harbour no expansionist plans while Israel does. Who really threatens whom? The Anglo-American wars and resultant occupation of Iraq and Libya should remind the comatose Muslim states of their vulnerability. Had Libya not given up its nuclear program in 2003, it might not have fallen so easily in 2011. When Libya fell, North Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the Libyan invasion and saying, “This is what happens when a country gives up its nukes.” A more apt title of the op-ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor of 30 August 2011 said it all: "A troubling lesson from Libya: Don’t give up your nukes.