Video: Schumer Eventually Calls Israel's Nuclear Arsenal a "Fact", Cuts off Further Questioning

A day before President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer spoke at the National Press Club Newsmaker on February 27, 2016. 

Sam Husseini questioned Chuck Schumer about Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal:


Full exchange here

Sam Husseini: You voted for the 2002 Iraq War Resolution, claiming Iraq was vigorously pursuing nuclear weapons. Do you acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons?[another question directed at Nancy Pelosi] ...

SH: Senator Schumer -- on Israel's nukes -- do you acknowledge --

Chuck Schumer: I didn't get your question.

SH: Do you acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons, sir?
 
CS: I'm not -- you can -- go read the newspapers about that. [walks away from podium] 

SH: You can't acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons, sir?

CS: It is a well known fact that Israel has nuclear weapons, but the Israeli government doesn't officially talk about what kinds of weapons and where, etc.

SH: Should the U.S. government be forthright?

CS: Ok, that's it.

Jeff Ballou (National Press Club President, news editor at Al Jazeera): Ok, we'll move on.

----

There are a number of problems with Schumer's response. 

Roger Mattson, author of Stealing the Atom Bomb: How Denial and Deception Armed Israel notes: "First Schumer tried to duck the question, then, trying to be forthright, he went further than anyone of his stature has gone before, at least to my knowledge. Too bad the moderator did not realize you were plowing new ground, or maybe he did realize that and cut [it] off intentionally."

Another is that Israel does not simply not "officially talk about what kinds of weapons and where" -- it refuses to acknowledge that they exist at all. This has been echoed by U.S. administration after U.S. administration which have refused to acknowledge the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal. See: The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial." 

Grant Smith of Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy has noted: "DOE Classification Bulletin WPN-136 on Foreign Nuclear Capabilities’ forbids stating what 63.9 percent of Americans already know -- that Israel has a nuclear arsenal.” See: "Israel Silently Lapping Field in “Mideast Nuclear Arms Race

Smith suggests: "So a final question would be: 'Since aid to non-NNPT countries is subject to the Arms Export Control Act sanctions, why do you keep passing it?'"

More coming on this issue. 

[Thanks to Ingrid Monkiewicz and Andrew Stewart] 
2 responses
In 2005 I was just an American in east Jerusalem researching my first historical fiction when I met Mordechai Vanunu and I became a reporter because he told me: “The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out. Everything inside was written in French, when I was there, almost twenty years ago. Back then, the Dimona descended seven floors underground. “In 1955, Perez and Guirion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai, but the reactor plant deal continued on. “Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’ “Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection. “When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them. “Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.” Mordechai Vanunu was convicted of treason and espionage in 1986. Nuclear Physicist Frank Barnaby was hired by London’s Sunday Times to vet Vanunu’s story [just before he was kidnapped by Mossad] and he testified at Vanunu’s closed-door trial: "I found Vanunu very straightforward about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically. Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy. The knowledge that Vanunu had about Israel’s nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today. He left Dimona in October 1985." On January 30, 2017 Vanunu wrote at Facebook regarding his latest appeal to end the restrictions that have held him under 24/7 survellaince since he emerged from 18 yrs. behind bars in 2004: “Nothing Change. Today the court heard my appeal; asking the 3 judges to intervene to, allow me to leave this country. The Israel govt. by its lawyer repeat the same accusations, that I am a security risk for them because of all the nuclear secrets from 35 years ago. So the court will make its decision in the next weeks, nothing change, continue to wait for freedom Now!” Vanunu is still waiting but you can view uncensored "30 Minutes with Vanunu" taped a few weeks after his freedom of speech trial began in 2006. Outcome was 78 days back in solitary in 2010: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwdz6dLbfok
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