Foreign Secretary David Miliband has denied that the British government is using double standards by imposing sanctions against Iran for its civilian nuclear program but not against Israel, which already has nuclear weapons.
“I do not think that that is a contradiction,” said Miliband when challenged during Foreign Affairs Questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
He suggested the main reason that sanctions were not being imposed against Israel was because it refused to accept international conventions, whereas Iran could be apparently punished because it did.
“Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. I would have liked to see Israel itself sign the NPT a long time ago, but it did not do so,” Miliband told MPs.
He went further in claiming that Iran’s civilian nuclear program was more dangerous than the existing illegal arsenal of nuclear weapons stockpiled by Israel.
“It is very clear in the Arab world that although the Israeli program may be viewed with disdain, it has not been the basis for mass proliferation in the Middle East,” the foreign secretary said.
Unlike the threat posed by Israeli nuclear arms, he claimed that Iran’s development program “will be the basis for precisely that sort of proliferation right across the Arab world.”
“We are clear that the possession of nuclear weapons by any state in the Middle East is not a contribution towards peace in that region. That is why we have long supported a middle east that is free of nuclear weapons,” he said.
When directly challenged, Miliband went further in refusing to condemn Israel for its illegal arsenal of nuclear weapons, which Britain had originally helped to develop.
He also rejected that the “obvious danger of proliferation in the region simply because there are nuclear weapons there and, therefore, an implied threat.”
The foreign secretary instead claimed that “if the Iranians do go ahead and develop a nuclear weapons capability, the chances of Israel disarming are zero, and that is why the immediate challenge that we face does relate to the Iranian program.”
“That is why it is very important to stop the rot in the NPT before it gets any deeper” rather than targeting Israel’s nuclear arsenal, he said.