Edwards’ Mid-East policy doesn’t admit Israeli nukes

Leaving the studios of CBS, presidential candidate Senator John Edwards repeated his position that he was for direct engagement with Iran. That position is qualified by Edwards also insisting that “all options are on the table.”

In January, in a satellite broadcast to the Herzliya Conference in Israel Senator Edwards asserted a domino theory-like prediction, “once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel’s neighborhood much more volatile.”

Sam Husseini wondered if the region wasn’t already further destabilized by Israel’s own first possession of nuclear arms in the Middle East (excluding the United States’ own projection of force).

Husseini asked the senator if he would acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons and wondered if the lack of such acknowledgment also aggravated the situation. Edwards spoke around the question. Presumably an Edwards presidency would continue the US tradition of not openly acknowledging Israel’s nuclear arsenal.


Sam Husseini: Follow-up on Iran: You’ve said that they should be negotiating, but you’ve also said at the [Herzliya] Security Conference in Israel that all options should be on the table. Isn’t that an implied threat that violates international law? That’s part one.

John Edwards: Oh no, far from it. I think that this is a situation with Iran where the use of diplomacy and the smart use of diplomacy has a significant chance of success. There is no way to know, ultimately, whether it will be successful without doing it. But we need to do it in a very thoughtful and smart way. We need to engage our European allies and the European banking institutions so that we can put maximum economic pressure on the Iranians. And we need to do everything in our power to get the Russians and the Chinese to participate. That will be more difficult than the Europeans.

SH: You also said at that same conference: “once Iran goes nuclear other nations in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel’s neighborhood much more volatile.” Senator, doesn’t Israel have nuclear weapons? And doesn’t that create volatility and doesn’t it cause resentment, that’s part one. Doesn’t Israel’s possession cause volatility? And part two: doesn’t the U.S. cause resentment by not acknowledging it? The U.S. government has never acknowledged that Israel has a massive nuclear arsenal — which it does?

JE: What I believe, and what I believe most thoughtful people believe, is that Iran having a nuclear weapon and having a proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East, because the odds are high that if Iran goes nuclear that the Saudis, will go nuclear, the Egyptians will go nuclear, the Jordanians may go nuclear, is not a good thing in the most volatile region of the world which is way we need to use a thoughtful diplomatic process to deal with this issue in Iran.

SH: But you are not acknowledging that Israel has nuclear weapons! Senator, you’re not acknowledging that Israel has nuclear weapons!

JE: Excuse me, I can’t hear him. I’m sorry. …

SH: Senator, in your answer You didn’t acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons, doesn’t that cause more resentment? Senator, its an empirical question, Senator.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Feb. 25, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]