Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Mondoweiss & Britain Eakin / Courthouse News – 2016-08-11 00:54:09
Lawsuit Aims to Contest US Aid to Clandestine Nuclear Power Israel
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 10, 2016) — A new lawsuit filed by the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy aims to put an end to some 40 years of the US government violating its own International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976, related to providing military aid to clandestine nuclear weapons power.
In this case the focus is on Israel, which is widely acknowledged to have a substantial nuclear weapons arsenal, but is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Since 1976, the US has provided some $234 billion in military aid to Israel, with a new record deal expected to be finalized soon.
The intention of the law (in particular the Glenn Amendment) was to ensure that the US was not supporting, even indirectly, any nation which had embarked on a program to create nuclear arms.
The law provided a loophole, which would allow a president to continue such aid if he could both certify the aid was a key US interest AND that the country in question was to put its entire program under IAEA auspices. Israel, however, has had no such intentions.
The lawsuit further alleges that the US government has made it a matter of policy since 1976 to keep Israel’s nuclear program a secret, citing the FOIA recovery of a heavily redacted directive of the Department of Energy which effectively banned all US officials and contractors, under threat of prison, from mentioning Israel’s nuclear capabilities.
This attempt to skirt the letter of the law through “ambiguity” closely mirrors what the US did with Egypt after their 2013 military coup d’etat. US law similarly forbids providing military aid to a nation ruled by a military junta, a law which the Obama Administration got around by just never “officially” recognizing the coup.
The Israel effort is the same, except more preposterous, as US officials often more or less publicly affirm their intention to keep Israel’s arsenal “secret,” and in 2010 President Obama even declared Israel to have a “right” to possess nuclear arms, even though this admission ought to have obliged the end to military aid to Israel.
The billions sent to Israel annually have become such a centerpiece of US policy that it is virtually unthinkable that they would allow a little thing like its overt illegality get in the way. Still, if they lost this lawsuit they’d be obliged to either end the aid or change the law to admit Israel can flout this restriction.
Lawsuit Aims to Block US Foreign Aid
To Israel as Clandestine Nuclear Power
(August 9, 2016) — A lawsuit filed Monday in the D.C. federal district court challenges US foreign aid to Israel.
The US is finalizing a ten-year memorandum of understanding which will reportedly boost aid to $4-5 billion per year. Grant F. Smith, Director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), in the suit challenges the authority of the president and US federal agencies to deliver such foreign aid to Israel. Such aid violates longstanding bans on aid to non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) with nuclear weapons programs. Since the bans went into effect, US foreign aid to Israel is estimated to be $234 billion.
The lawsuit reveals how in the mid-1970s during investigations into the illegal diversion of weapons-grade uranium from US contractor NUMEC to Israel, Senators Stuart Symington and John Glenn amended the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act to ban any aid to clandestine nuclear powers that were not NPT signatories. Symington clarified the legislative intent of the amendments: “â€¦if you wish to take the dangerous and costly steps necessary to achieve a nuclear weapons option, you cannot expect the United States to help underwrite that effort indirectly or directly.”
The Obama administration follows precedents established since the Ford administration by ignoring internal agency and public domain information that should trigger Symington & Glenn cutoffs and waiver provisions governing foreign aid. The administration has gone further in criminalizing the flow of such information from the federal government to the public.
In 2012 the Department of Energy under US State Department authority passed a secret gag law called “Guidance on Release of Information relating to the Potential for an Israeli Nuclear Capability.” The gag law and related measures promote a “nuclear ambiguity” policy toward Israel. The primary purpose of the gag law is to unlawfully subvert Symington & Glenn arms export controls, the suit alleges.
IRmep won unprecedented release of a Pentagon report about Israel’s nuclear weapons program through a 2014 lawsuit. A 2015 IRmep lawsuit dislodged CIA files about the NUMEC diversion.
IRmep is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit researching US Middle East policy formulation.
On Eve of Aid Boost,
Researcher Flags Israel’s ‘Clandestine’ Nukes
Britain Eakin / Courthouse News
WASHINGTON, DC (August 10, 2016) — US aid to Israel violates a long-standing ban on giving foreign aid to clandestine nuclear powers, the director of a Middle East policy nonprofit claims in a federal complaint.
Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, says the United States has given Israel an estimated $234 billion in foreign aid since Congress passed the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
Discussing his Aug. 8 lawsuit in an interview, Smith said the pro se litigation has been 10 years in the making.
Though Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Smith noted that it is a known nuclear power and recipient of US aid.
The US has had a long-standing policy of keeping mum on the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, a poorly kept secret that successive US administrations since Gerald Ford have refused to publicly acknowledge.
Smith’s lawsuit comes on the eve of a deal that would boost US aid to the country by between $1 billion and $2 billion per year over a decade. Israel already gets $3 billion a year in US aid.
In addition to the United States and President Barack Obama, the complaint names as defendants Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and the secretaries of the Treasury, Energy and Commerce Departments.
“Defendants have collectively engaged in a violation of administrative procedure and the Take Care Clause by unlawful failure to act upon facts long in their possession while prohibiting the release of official government information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, particularly ongoing illicit transfers of nuclear weapons material and technology from the US to Israel,” the 33-page complaint states.
To sustain a policy of “nuclear ambiguity” on Israel’s weapons program, Smith says the government uses improper classification and threatens federal employees and researchers with prosecution, fines and imprisonment.
The gag is driven, according to the complaint, by a Department of Energy directive known as WNP-136, Foreign Nuclear Capabilities.
Smith says his digging under the Freedom of Information Act brought a version of the document to light that was “nearly 90 percent redacted.”
“This is an Energy Department directive that demands imprisonment for any federal official or contractor who even mentions that Israel might have a nuclear weapons program,” Smith said in an interview.
“This amounts to a law, a gag order on this information,” the Washington man added. “And we’re asking them to really take away this entire unlawful fulcrum called ambiguity and let the implications and chips, in terms of the aid that it enables, fall where they may.”
In the complaint, Smith says foreign aid to Israel violates two amendments of the 1961 Foreign Aid Act, known as the Symington and Glenn amendments, which ban aid to clandestine nuclear powers.
“Federal agencies such as the Department of Treasury, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Commerce have acted unlawfully and in concert to help thwart Symington & Glenn,” the complaint states.
The Glenn amendment came about, Smith noted, after former Sen. John Glenn met with the CIA about diversion from US nuclear contractor NUMEC to Israel’s nuclear program.
Hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium disappeared from the facility, traces of which were later found outside of Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility.
“It was a contractor that lost more weapons grade uranium than any other US processing facility,” Smith said in an interview. Israeli intelligence agency Lakam sent Israeli agents tasked with sourcing foreign nuclear material on repeated visits to the facility, he added.
Glenn also attended a CIA briefing about this matter, Smith noted.
“He was concerned that the US was being victimized and an unwilling participant in this nuclear weapons development program. He received assurances from the CIA they were not doing any clandestine operation, but he wanted to, along with [Stuart] Symington, ensure the US was not rewarding any sort of proliferation initiatives,” Smith said.
Smith gleaned that information from documents he obtained during an extensive FOIA battle with the government, he said.
In an interview, Smith noted that the United States has three options: “issue a waiver, as Symington and Glenn intended; change the law and just say none of this applies to Israel; or cut off the aid.”
“We would be most in favor of option three,” Smith added.
He said the Symington and Glenn amendments were intended “to prevent Americans from being forced to subsidize a clandestine nuclear weapons program.”
In addition to halting Israel’s aid intake, Smith also wants any aid given to Israel since 1978 “clawed back for disgorgement.”
A federal judge should also declare the policy of “nuclear ambiguity” unlawful, according to the complaint, and issue an order that requires US presidents to uphold the Symington and Glenn Amendments.
The CIA, the State Department and the Treasury Department each refused to comment on the lawsuit.
The White House and the Energy Department have not returned emails seeking comment.
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