Nearly 65 percent of Americans believe Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program should be officially acknowledged. Almost 55 percent believe the program should be subject to international inspections.
The IRmep poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percent, was fielded June 4-6 by Google Consumer Surveys and received 1,518 responses.
In May, 2015 the US, UK and Canada blocked a United Nations initiative to create a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East in order to avoid any review of Israel, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In contrast, the new poll finds broad popular American support for bringing the region’s only existing program out of the shadows.
Israel maintains a “nuclear ambiguity” policy of neither confirming nor denying possession of nuclear weapons. Since the Nixon administration, American presidents have enforced a gag policy in the US. Federal employees are currently banned from discussing Israel’s arsenal under threat of losing security clearances, job loss and criminal prosecution. Major news media organizations generally fail to cover Israel’s impact on proliferation citing lack of official acknowledgment. In 2009 President Obama refused to answer a direct question about the arsenal.
Presently, according to the poll, only 35% of Americans support such continued official silence on the program.
The pretense of official ignorance is increasingly difficult to maintain. In 1986 Israeli dissident Mordecai Vanunu released photos and other compelling evidence about the program. In 2008 ex-US president Jimmy Carter confirmed Israel had at least 150 nuclear weapons. In 2012 the FBI released files linking Benjamin Netanyahu to an international ring that smuggled nuclear triggers out of the US. In February 2015 the Department of Defense released a 1987 report about the advanced state of Israel’s nuclear weapons production facilities and hydrogen bomb project. 63.9 percent of Americans believe Israel has nuclear weapons.
Taxpayers funding more foreign aid to Israel (PDF) than any other country are among the biggest losers. At the National Press Club on April 10 IRmep estimated $234 billion in US aid has been unlawfully delivered to Israel since 1976. The Symington and Glenn Amendments to the Foreign Aid Act of 1961 prohibit US aid to countries with clandestine nuclear weapons facilities. That aid, if properly disgorged, would average $1,909.54 per US taxpayer.
Grant F. Smith is the author of America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government. He currently serves as director of research at the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington (IRmep), D.C. Read other articles by Grant, or visit Grant’s website.