On January 17, the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) filed a 59-page brief (PDF HTML) in a lawsuit demanding release of a series of secret presidential letters promising not to force Israel to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) or publicly discuss Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
The brief contextualizes a formerly top-secret 1969 cross-agency study about what U.S. policy toward Israel’s nuclear weapons should be. Unanimous consensus between the Departments of Defense, State and intelligence community was that Israel should be compelled to sign the NPT in order to be allowed to purchase conventional U.S. military weapons. Government agencies correctly believed that if Israel was allowed to possess nuclear weapons there would never be peace in the Middle East. National security adviser Henry Kissinger also grudgingly revealed intelligence in the summary that Israelis had stolen U.S. government nuclear material to build their arsenal atomic weapons. (1969 NSC papers on the Israeli nuclear weapons program filed as Exhibit A PDF)
Going against the consensus advice, on September 26, 1969, President Nixon adopted the Israeli policy of “ambiguity” (never confirming or denying Israel’s nuclear weapons program) in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. US presidents through Donald Trump have continued the Israeli “ambiguity” policy in a series of letters written under intense lobbying by the Israeli government.
According to the IRmep legal filing, this policy has perpetuated a $222.8 billion dollar fraud against U.S. taxpayers through non-enforcement of Arms Export Control Act bans on U.S. foreign aid – absent specific waivers – to known foreign nuclear powers that have not signed the NPT. The IRmep filing also debunks a series of assertions and disinformation filed in an affidavit by the National Security Council
On January 18, 2019 the Department of Justice filed a motion to indefinitely stop the lawsuit from proceeding until the end of the government shutdown, citing lack of funds to mount a legal defense. (PDF)
Grant F. Smith is research director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and the plaintiff in civil action no. 18-CV-02048 seeking presidential letters to Israel promising not to comply with the NPT and AECA.He is the author of the 2016 book, Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America now available as an audiobook.