Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says now that his country has accepted strict curbs on its nuclear program, it’s time for Israel and the world's other nuclear powers to begin their disarmament.
In an article published in The Guardian on Friday, Mr. Zarif argues that while non-nuclear-weapon states, like Iran, have “walked the walk” to conform with the non-proliferation regime, states possessing destructive weapons have hardly even “talked the talk” and rejected the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and customary international law.
“Today, in light of the Vienna deal, it is high time that the nuclear “haves” remedied the gap by adopting serious disarmament measures and reinforcing the non-proliferation regime,” wrote Zarif.
After two years of negotiation, Iran and six world powers reached a nuclear deal on July 14 in Vienna.
Zarif, on the other hand, said on Friday that the deal is "symbolically significant enough" to "mark the beginning of a new era for the non-proliferation regime.”
Israel is widely believed to be the only owner of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, with about 80 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Israeli officials, however, have never publicly confirmed the existence of their nuclear arsenal.
Bruce Riedel, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, contends in a column for Al-Monitor that Israel is the country that started the nuclear arms race in the region. “Some have argued the Vienna deal will start a nuclear arms race in the region,” he said. “In fact, a nuclear arms race has been underway in the Middle East for 65 years. Israel won it.”
Mr. Riedel asserts that Israel has a right to develop a nuclear arsenal since it has been at war since its birth. But, he said suggesting that Israel is an impotent defenseless country is not correct, adding that the country has been benefiting from “enormous amounts of American intelligence and military support.”
Riedel's piece goes on to say that Iran deal should be debated in the context of the balance of power in the Middle East. “A comprehensive and thorough discussion of the balance of power should include Israel’s real strategic situation.”
Zarif’s Friday remarks does not single out Israel. In his note he called for the nuclear disarmament of all countries possessing weapons of mass destruction.
All five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, Russia, China, the UK and France – are armed with nuclear weapons.
And besides these countries, there are other nuclear-armed states which, like Israel, are not NPT signatories: India, Pakistan and North Korea. Israel, India and Pakistan have never been signatories of the Treaty, and North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003.