Writer Sasha Polakaw-Suransky broke the story wide open yesterday when he finally announced the results of his extensive research into Israel's nuclear activities. Basically what happened is he discovered documents that strongly suggest that Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa in 1975. The problem with the airtightness of the case is that the signature of Shimon Peres, current Israeli president and former defense minister, is on a secrecy agreement with South Africa, which was signed four days after a meeting between Peres and the South African defense minister. In the minutes of the meeting, typed and preserved by South Africa, nuclear weapons exchanges were discussed. So naturally, Peres is spinning the story by saying, correctly, that his signature is not on any document suggesting Israel has nuclear weapons or plans to proliferate them.
Polakaw-Suransky says about this, "he is speaking as a politician and someone predictably weasling his way out of a situation."
Yossi Melman, Israeli journalist, jumps on board the denial train and says that if Israel does currently have nukes, it didn't obtain them until 1979 and therefore couldn't have sold them to SA in 1975 even if they wanted to. He did however confirm that Israel traded tritium to SA in exchange for uranium.
In the above interview on Al Jazeera, the interviewer says to Melman, "Israel is not really in a position to cast dispersions on other peoples' nuclear ambitions. For instance, Iran."
Melman has that look on his face your kids get when you know they're doing something they're not supposed to do and you ask them what they're doing anyway and they respond, "Nooooooothiiiiing." You can tell he's thinking goddammit I should have known he was going to say that. So he takes a few moments to stutter and responds, "Well, that's not the same case. Israel has never admitted that it has nuclear weapons. It has never threatened to use nuclear weapons."
Wait. Am I...isn't that exactly the same case? Has Iran admitted it has nuclear weapons? Did I miss that announcement?
There are two main points of newsworthiness about this story. The first is obviously the evidence pointing toward Israel having nukes. The second is Israel's clear cooperation with Apartheid-era South Africa, which is unseemly and certainly doesn't help the image of today's Israel since its critics are constantly comparing Israel's policies toward Arabs to apartheid. However, as usual, only the Israeli press included the word "apartheid" in headlines about the event. Which is typical. Jewish guilt or whatever. I don't know.