By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) – The State Department on Friday refused to address the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons that were disclosed in emails by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
In a message regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress last year, Powell wrote that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon if it were able to develop one because “the boys in Tehran know Israel has 200, all targeted on Tehran, and we [the U.S.] have thousands.”
At a news conference, State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked about the legality of the U.S. providing aid to a country that posses nuclear weapons that also has not singed on to the the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Kirby refused to address the question, saying he would not “speak to this particular traffic” and “intelligence matters.”
Even when pressed several times about the issue, Kirby refused to budge.
The disclosure by Powell raises questions about the U.S. government’s compliance with its own laws.
If a non-signatory to the NPT has or tries to acquire nuclear weapons, U.S. law requires Washington to cut all aid to that nation and work with the international community to discontinue its nuclear program.
The U.S. announced earlier this week that it would give Israeli $38 billion over 10 years – the largest-ever military aid deal Washington has had with another country.
Israel is not a signatory to the NPT but has always been ambiguous about its nuclear program. Many nations suspect Israel possess nuclear weapons and in 1986, nuclear technician Mardechai Vanunu famously exposed the existence of his country’s nuclear weapon’s program.
Powell’s emails were leaked by a hacker group, DCLeaks, and published earlier this week on LobeLog, a foreign policy blog website.
In an email chain, Powell acknowledged Iran’s right to enrich uranium for energy purposes and wrote that the one-year break out period for Iran to make a nuclear bomb was exaggerated by the American intelligence and Netanyahu during negotiations to reach a nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran.
[Photo:Colin Powell’s leaked emails confims US were aware that Israel possessed nuclear weapons. Photo by DoD News Feature/Creative Commons]