Eli Lake in the Washington Times adds some additional context to reports that the U.S. wants Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — it would break a 40-year-old secret accord between the two countries to "shield Israel’s nuclear weapons from international scrutiny":
The origins of the U.S. shield of Israel’s nuclear program date to a 1969 summit between President Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, documents released in the past few years show.
There is no one piece of paper that actually describes the accord. However, the closest acknowledgment of the deal came in 2007, when the Nixon Library declassified many of the papers of former National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. A July 7, 1969, memorandum to Mr. Nixon titled, "Israeli Nuclear Program," said that by the end of 1970, Israel would likely have 24 to 30 French surface-to-surface missiles, 10 of which would have nuclear warheads.
Mr. Kissinger, who later became secretary of state, wrote that ideally, the U.S. would prefer Israel to have no nuclear weapons, but that was not attainable.
He added that "public knowleadge is almost as dangerous as possession itself," arguing that an Israeli announcement of its arsenal or a nuclear test could prompt the Soviet Union to offer Arab states a nuclear guarantee.
"What this means is that: While we might ideally like to halt actual Israeli possession, what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact," Mr. Kissinger wrote.
Lake writes the issue will probably be discussed later this month when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to Washington:
The issue will likely come to a head when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mr. Obama on May 18 in Washington. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to seek assurances from Mr. Obama that he will uphold the U.S. commitment and will not trade Israeli nuclear concessions for Iranian ones. …
A senior White House official said the administration considered the nuclear programs of Israel and Iran to be unrelated "apples and oranges."
Asked by The Washington Times whether the administration would press Israel to join the NPT, the official said, "We support universal adherence to the NPT. [It] remains a long-term goal."
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.