More posts coming soon!

 

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Over the next few weeks, I will posting a few more articles to get this blog revamped. A lot of things to write about including the Paris Agreement at COP21, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the EU+3 (and the subsequent lifting of sanctions on Iran), Cuban-American relations, elections in Myanmar etc. Stay tuned…

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The Plight of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: An Australian Attorney’s Perspective

For many people, moving to the United States of America represents a chance for a new beginning. The “American dream” presents seemingly boundless opportunities and the prospect for a life their home countries may not offer. This American dream is even more meaningful for the tens of thousands of immigrants that arrive in America from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and India every year. It is perhaps even more significant still for a particularly vulnerable group amongst these immigrants—unaccompanied minors. The opportunities that America presents to this group of individuals are, however, limited by their access to legal representation.

Pro Bono Week

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a facility housing these children as part of Pro Bono Week at Baker & McKenzie. As an Australian, visiting from the Baker & McKenzie office in Sydney to complete an international clerkship at Baker & McKenzie in Chicago, this presented a unique opportunity to gain firsthand insight into the life of an immigrant child. This experience at the facility housing unaccompanied immigrant children was [jarring], and one that I suspect will have a profound impact on me long after I have returned to Australia. For me as a young lawyer at the start of my career in the corporate world, it was a timely reminder of our obligation as lawyers to assist those whose lives, quite literally, are dependent on our legal knowledge and advice.

Adjusting to a new city is challenging. Because I am from “Down Under,” my sense of culture shock was trivial. I found I had to adjust to such things as the different metric system, cars that drove on the other side of the road, and minor linguistic variances. But even as a 23-year-old, I found these slight differences between Australian and American somewhat daunting. In light of my experiences, I cannot fathom how difficult it would be to be in Chicago as an unaccompanied minor, with little knowledge of the culture, language, or way of life.

Orientation 

From the outset, my experience at the immigration housing facility was jarring. Indeed, following the overview of the legal regimes governing asylum claims of unaccompanied minors in the United States, it was immediately apparent these children would require support and legal advice to articulate their asylum claims. Unaccompanied immigrant children do not have the right to appointed counsel within the United States, which makes it even more imperative that lawyers partake in pro bono initiatives to assist these children. In addition, to achieve Special Immigrant Juvenile(SIJ) status, and under the definition of a “refugee” under the Refugee Convention, narrow, circumscribed criteria must be fulfilled. Consequently, the prospects for successful immigration are dependent on the placement of children in a category, such as the category of persecution in their home countries on racial, religious, or political grounds. Of course, the children may not fall into one of these categories, and they may be too young to understand, let alone explain, their plight, which makes it difficult to advance their claims.

Asylum seekers are generally required to disclose as much information about their reasons for asylum to progress their claims. Identification documents such as passports and birth certificates are also required. It is often the case, however, that having fled their countries, these children often speak no English, are not aware of the application requirements, and carry little or no identification.

Because of my Australian background, I found this session particularly insightful given some of the differences between United States and Australian law pertaining to unaccompanied immigrant children. During my final semester of law school at the University of Sydney, I worked at Australia’s largest refugee service, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service. I found it incredibly useful to learn about the American approach to unaccompanied children, which involves the immediate housing of children within centers. This presents a vast contrast to the Australian system, which involves the offshore processing of asylum seekers.

Tour of the Center

Equipped with some background into the intricacies of U.S. immigration law, we proceeded to partake in a guided tour of the unaccompanied minor facility, which included sharing lunch with some of the unaccompanied children. I found the children to be well behaved and polite individuals who offered their seats and expressed natural curiosity about our career in law. I was amazed at how easy it was to talk to the children despite our language barriers. The fact that I was from Australia was a source of great fascination for some of the Indian children, particularly given the historic rivalry between Australia and India in cricket. We also established bonds over topics such as the Blackhawks’ recent victory and even Chicago’s somewhat erratic summer weather. Indeed, we were both new to Chicago, pursuing new opportunities and experiences. Our similarities demonstrated that regardless of your country of origin, or the language you speak, there are commonalities which transcend physical borders.

An Interview with a Minor 
The most [eye-opening] aspect of my experience at the facility was an interview I helped conduct with a particularly fragile and vulnerable unaccompanied minor. Whilst the intricacies and details of our interview remain highly confidential, it highlighted the vulnerabilities some of these children face as unaccompanied minors within the United States. The child’s visible exhaustion, helplessness, and simple lack of awareness of legal rights within the complex immigration system placed her at serious risk of being sent back to her home country where she may potentially face a life-threatening predicament. My assistance in providing a legal assessment of the child’s predicament and prospects of submitting a successful asylum claim alerted me to the vital role lawyers and child advocates can play in assisting unaccompanied children.

Given that minors may not be aware of their legal obligations and roles, it is necessary for lawyers to provide counsel and assist them with presenting the strongest possible case for asylum. In addition, given that they are children on their own, they will often need child advocates (best-interests guardians ad litem) to help put their cases in context. Without this assistance, it is difficult to imagine an unaccompanied child having reasonable prospects for success for immigration to the United States.

Through the interview process, I was enlightened by the intricacies and difficulties associated with working with children within the legal industry. There are challenges associated with obtaining instructions from clients who are minors, in addition to language and other barriers. Further, obtaining the facts from minors is complicated by the trauma associated with their journeys and the requirement to relive often painful experiences from their homeland. Such challenges present a vastly different working environment as compared with our interaction with corporate clients.

To assist in obtaining the relevant facts and instructions, there are multiple guidelines which exist specifically for the purpose of assisting individuals who work with children, given their particularly vulnerable status.

Comparison with Australian Policy

The trip to the facility is highly significant given the recent political debate surrounding asylum seekers in my home country, Australia. The arrival of so-called boat people is a vexed and divisive issue right across the spectrum within Australian politics.

Typically, a small number of asylum seekers seek refuge in Australia, traveling from countries such as Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Iran. These asylum seekers generally stop in Indonesia, but some risk their lives to travel to Australia by boat in perilous conditions. This is not dissimilar from many of the unaccompanied minors arriving in America, some of whom have traveled in extremely dangerous conditions.

In July 2013, the Australian Labor Party enacted a controversial and hard-line policy which has placed a blanket ban on any so-called boat people being settled in Australia. A new asylum seeker arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been adopted, and it will mean that all asylum seekers arriving by boat, not by plane, will be transferred to PNG, where they will be mandatorily detained for an undefined period of time. Indeed, as a professor of international law at the University of Sydney, Ben Saul, has described, “many countries would find it laughable that an astonishingly rich and under populated country like Australia would seek to amend the [refugee] convention in response to an extremely modest refugee flow.” In 2012 alone, a total of 58,179 persons were admitted to the United States as refugees, and 29,484 were granted asylum. In comparison, in 2010–2011, Australia’s refugee intake was 13,799.

This latest policy of deterrence appears legally dubious and perhaps inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention. As stated under article 31 of the convention, an asylum seeker may not be penalized on account of mode of entry to Australia—whether by boat or by plane. Perhaps the Australian Labor Party would benefit from a trip to a local unaccompanied minors facility similar to the one I visited during my time here in Chicago. The inhumane policy of rejecting all of these arrivals purely based on their method of arrival is, contrary to the requirements of the Refugee Convention, punitive. To suggest that unaccompanied children, such as those in Chicago, would “never be settled in Australia” purely due to the nature of their arrival appears logically and legally incongruous. It defeats the underlying purpose of the Refugee Convention and undermines the definition of an “asylum seeker.” My experiences at the facility in Chicago demonstrated that minors are vulnerable and at risk of getting lost in the legal system. For immigrants sent to PNG, accessibility to legal advice will decrease significantly, and they will be subjected to mandatory detention for extended periods of time.

Pro Bono Initiatives

There are multiple pro bono opportunities for lawyers to assist unaccompanied minors by providing free legal representation or serving as a child advocate. By working with unaccompanied immigrant children or representing an unaccompanied child seeking asylum to gain Special Immigrant Juvenile status, lawyers can be expected to partake in 80–100 hours of casework, which presents a substantive learning opportunity. The pro bono representation and child advocate projects serving immigration centers provide in-depth training, technical assistance, and case support, which presents an opportunity to harvest legal skills. Further, it is an opportunity to improve legal and communication skills by learning how to obtain instructions from a minor, which is vastly different to the usual corporate client.

Conclusion

My experience at the facility served as a pertinent reminder of our obligations as lawyers to help provide legal services to those who genuinely require our assistance. Whether it is through experiencing the harsh realities of an immigration facility housing unaccompanied minors on the other side of the world, or simply volunteering to provide assistance to your local community to those who desperately require legal aid, we, as lawyers, certainly have a role to play in increasing accessibility to the law. Having gained law degrees, we are in position to make a difference, and we should embrace this by assisting those who may not be as fortunate or privileged. My experience has certainly changed my outlook and desire to participate in pro bono initiatives. Perhaps it will change yours too.

This piece originally appeared on October 7, 2013 in the American Bar Association’s litigation publication. It can be accessed below:

http://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/childrights/content/articles/fall2013-1013-plight-unaccompanied-immigrant-children-australian-attorney-perspective.html

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The Cuban Diaspora: Mixed Identity of Miami’s Cubans

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Since High School, I’ve had a desire to visit Cuba. There is something strangely fascinating about the small Caribbean state that evokes a sense of adventure, mystery and a journey into the depths of the unknown that excites me. As teenagers, some friends and I agreed we’d visit Cuba one day – perhaps when we were “grown up” and ready to explore the world.

In 2013, the day has finally arrived. In just over a few months, we’re embarking on an adventure almost a decade in the making.

But the upcoming trip has gained more prominence for me in recent years. By completing a semester abroad at the University of Miami, I had a chance to scratch the surface of the Cuban Diaspora tale. Home to the biggest Cuban expatriate population, Miami presented a distinctly negative image of the current predicament in Cuba.

With my trip to Cuba only a few months away, I thought it necessary to reflect on my experiences as an exchange student on “the other side of Cuba.” Perhaps delving into my Miami memories is a crucial counterbalance for what I’m about to experience within the country itself.

The following was my feature article which appeared on pages 28-29 of the “Energy Politics” edition of the March 2012 edition of The Sydney Globalist:

Miami, Florida:

The small, sun-soaked city of Miami, Florida is the heartland of the Diaspora Cuban population in the United States of America. Located some 366km from Havana, this Floridian city well documented in popular culture for its infamous night-life, serves as a bastion for Latin-American culture in the US, with some 33% of the total population claiming Cuban heritage. From the domino parks of Calle Ocho in  “Little Havana”, to the array of Cuban restaurants along South Beach, and the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami, it is impossible to ignore the omnipresent Cuban flavour of this beautiful tropical city.

However, beneath Miami’s adorned sunshine and the perpetual sway of palm trees, lies a larger and more sensitive phenomena amongst its Diaspora Cubans – that is, the relationship between Cuban-Americans and their home country, Cuba. The emergence of a dual identity, which seeks to reject affiliation with the politics of Cuba, whilst simultaneously promoting their cultural traditions, has meant the Cuban story is inescapable in Miami.

Cuban Diaspora: Dual Identity:

Haideh Moghissi argues that there are certain characteristics, which define all Diasporas, regardless of their origin. Moghissi defines Diaspora as the “loss and dispersion as the result of a forcible displacement of peoples from countries or regions defined as their cultural and historical centres.”

The Cuban example in Miami provides a clear instance of the Diaspora phenomenon. For many Cubans, their immigration to the US in the 1960’s was seen as a temporary solution to the establishment of Fidel Castro’s regime. But some 50 years on, for many of these Cuban-Americans, the prospect of returning to Cuba even under Castro’s brother, Raul Castro, remains impossible and perhaps undesired.

Throughout my time as an exchange student at an allegedly former CIA base and recruiting ground in its opposition to Cuba – the University of Miami – I was able to delve deep into the concept of the Cuban Diaspora. My highly personal experiences in Miami presented a first hand account the operation, views and perspectives of select Cuban Americans.  Whilst, admittedly, there is considerable scope for division amongst Cubans on a number of issues, the study of the Cuban Diaspora presents a paradigmatic case study of the dual identity of Diasporas around the world.

Rejection of Castro:

The active attempt by the Diaspora to reject the political realities of Cuba is particularly apparent in the anti-Castro sentiment on campus amongst many Cuban-American students. Indeed, my Politics of Latin America class contained a number of highly outspoken Cuban-Americans, who, whilst staunchly anti-Castro, appeared to reject Castro’s regime more so as a product of their upbringing, rather than an objective analysis. Their steadfast refusal to accept arguments contradicting their opinion of Castro suggested, however justified or unjustified, a lack of serious objectivity in discussing Cuba.

Beyond the campus environment, many Diaspora Cubans appeared reluctant to return or visit Cuba under Castro. A vivid and stark reminder was a particularly sensitive cab driver who appeared shocked when questioned about his desire to return to Cuba. Whilst there are difficulties in using his blunt answer of  “Why would I want to go back with Castro there?” as conclusive for all expatriates, his response proved to be quite symptomatic of anti-Castro sentiment amongst Miami’s Cuban population.

Perhaps the greatest reminder of anti-Castro sentiment amongst the Cuban Diaspora lay in the famous domino populated streets of “Little Havana” or “La Pequeña Habana.” Home to a flurry of Cuban stores, Little Havana is arguably the heartland of the Diaspora. Throughout the famous Calle Ocho lie various signs of discontent, disenchantment and staunch opposition to Castro’s Cuba.

Of particular significance were the headquarters of the alleged Alpha 66 CIA ring, long known for its clear opposition to Castro and recruitment of Cuban dissidents. Eerily empty, the headquarters serve as a permanent reminder of the dual identity of the Cuban Diaspora – that is, an identity which, even within the heartland of Cuban cultural dominance in Miami, maintains staunch opposition to Castro. Close-by are a scurry of anti-Castro signs, memorial parks, Bay of Pigs Monuments and wall murals (see picture above) which embrace the perceived democratic traditions of the United States.

Promotion of Cuban Culture:

Whilst the purported anti-Castro stance is clear and an inescapable reality of the Cuban Diaspora in Miami, the more tangible indicators of the Cuban Diaspora lay in the visible promotion of Cuban culture. Perhaps this marks an attempt to deflect the negative perception of Cuba viewed strictly through the prism of politics.

The proliferation of Cuban cigar stores, music stores, cafes, restaurants and bars is a quaint reminder of Miami’s Cuban influence. Symbolically, elderly Cubans enjoy the camaraderie and social competition in the domino park, Máximo Gómez Park, whilst sipping on traditional Cuban sugar cane Guarapo. This takes place alongside political murals demonising Castro – a reminder that politics and culture are never far apart for the Diaspora. Additionally, the “Café Cubano” coffee offered at the local McDonalds in Little Havana suggests that even amongst the most quintessentially American stores, the dual identity of the Cuban Diaspora is omnipresent.

Miami’s Cuban legacy is evident even in the realm of institutional education. At the University of Miami, libraries have dedicated volumes upon volumes of documents and archives related to Cuba. Known as the Cuban Heritage Collection, the University of Miami’s has expressed a scholarly commitment to educating its students and appreciating the University’s visible Cuban heritage.

Continuation:

Whilst it is difficult to utilise my personal experiences studying abroad as an authoritative source for analysing Cuban Diaspora, it does provide some indication as to the visible nature of the dual identity amongst particular Cuban-Americans.

The Cuban Diaspora’s dual identity attempts to fuse the best of both worlds so to speak – an identity whereby cultural traditions are embraced and domestic Cuban politics are simultaneously rejected.  With the continuation of the US’ longest running blockade on Cuba and the prevalence of the Castro regime, it’s hard to imagine Miami losing its Cuban flavour any time soon.

The feature article may be accessed on pages 28-29 of The Sydney Globalist in the Energy Politics edition, available here: http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/70685717/Volume%20VII%2C%20Issue%20II%20%282012%29%20-%20Energy%20Politics.pdf

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Iran’s 2009 Green Movement Revisited: 2012 and Beyond

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This article originally appeared in The Sydney Globalist’s “Shifting Seats”  edition in 2012. It assesses my previous work on Iran’s post 2009 election crisis in light of the region’s historic leadership changes.

In 2009, at the height of the controversial Iranian elections that saw the most widespread protests in the Islamic Republic’s 30 year history, I wrote the lead article for the ‘New Face of Power’ edition of The Sydney Globalist: ‘The Technological Revolution: Freedom, Change and Democracy in Iran’. Expressing deep admiration for the courage, perseverance and creativity of the protestors in challenging the allegedly fraudulent electoral results, I explored the emergence of a new kind of political dissent inspired by the phenomena of social media.

Technologically armed with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the efforts of the Iranian protestors have largely been heralded as the precursor to the wave of leadership challenges and depositions of dictators in the Middle East in 2011.

Almost three years since the uprisings, Iran’s leadership crisis, unlike those in Egypt and Tunisia, has failed to garner regime or leadership change. By contrast, in a continued and meticulous campaign aimed at crushing dissent, the regime prima facie appears to have a stranglehold on power stronger now than ever in its 33-year history.

However, an analysis of Iran’s movement as having reached a considerable and meaningless plateau is far from accurate. A closer and more qualified inspection indicates that Iran’s progression into the depths of theocracy and totalitarianism has been coupled with the development of an even larger movement for broader social change.

In a time of leadership changes and crises, Iran represents an anomaly of sorts, one that cannot be said to conform to the current wave of overt democratic movements throughout the Middle East. And yet the movement, whilst no longer necessarily “Green” in colour, remains a pertinent force and a significant thorn in the Islamic Republic that may eventually lead to its demise.

Ahmadinejad’s Isolation

Since his Election in 2009, Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a leader much criticised in Western media for his apparently provocative rhetoric, has become increasingly isolated. Ironically, his distance has not been prompted by so-called ‘reformist’ figures, many of which have been gaoled, tortured or subjected to house arrest.

Rather, political infighting has emerged between the more theocratic members of the Iranian regime loyal to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Ahmadinejad supporters, the former accusing Ahmadinejad of deviating from conservative Islam. As such, deep divisions have appeared amongst the ruling religious aristocracy.

In 2009, it may have been difficult to foresee the strange turn of events where those once loyal to Ahmadinejad abandoned his rhetoric in favour of a more extreme theocracy. The man lambasted in international media is also viewed by the religious elite within the country as dangerous, but for vastly different reasons.

To the clerics, Ahmadinejad represents a threat to theocratic Islam. To everyday Iranians, Ahmadinejad reflects a barrier to achieving change and reform. To the Western world, Ahmadinejad is seen as a dangerous madman. It is hard to categorise where the Iranian Movement stands in a world of divided discourse and rhetoric surrounding an increasingly powerless man.

In a blow to Ahmadinejad’s credibility, recent parliamentary elections saw the Iranian President fail to garner the support of the voting populace, giving way to the election of hard line individuals loyal to the Supreme Leader.

Increasingly, Iranian conservatives have suggested that Ahmadinejad’s misgivings demonstrate the need to displace the position of President entirely. This would leave the Supreme Leader to rule every aspect of Iranian society. In the context of a movement towards greater theocracy, such a move would not be surprising. It would be a truer reflection of the facade of democracy the Iranian Constitution purports to promote and the reality of the subordination of the rule of law.

Further Suppression

What does this political infighting amongst the ruling elite mean for the rest of Iranian society? The movement towards closer loyalty to the Supreme Leader has resulted in deeper efforts to clamp down on any political dissent.

Arrests have increased. The threat of violence has suppressed any glimmer of public protest. Human rights activists, lawyers and so-called reformist politicians have been prevented from functioning within everyday society, and the security mechanisms of the country remain on high alert.

Despite their deep divisions, the ruling conservatives remain united in their opposition to the movement and to the democratic rhetoric of 2009, where millions throughout Iran alleged widespread electoral fraud, and perhaps even the need for systemic change.

But it is difficult to see the Iranian regime’s increased security response as representing some form of stability within Iranian society, as the ruling elites would have observer believe. The suggestion that an increase in arrests and suppression of dissent represents a unified modern Iran is logically incongruent.

Rather, the regime is experiencing what scholar Ray Takeyh calls a “deep crisis of legitimacy”: a perpetual state of fear that the wounds of 2009 may reappear. And if Iran’s history in 1953 and 1979 is anything to go by, regimes are prone to eventual unravelling and collapse.

The Future

Ultimately, it is still difficult to predict where Iran’s movement is headed. Gone are the days where dissent is articulated through flagrant colours of opposition. Such protests have been suppressed through mass intimidation, show trials and torture. However, as long as the Iranian security apparatus continues to respond in such a ferocious manner, the movement of 2009 remains a relevant and active force.

As the regime experiences increased political infighting and responds through greater suppression of the rule of law, the ideals of the ‘Green movement’ lie beneath the surface of Iranian society. The seeds of social dissent have certainly been planted, but it is possible that in years to come the ‘Arab Spring’ may have a distinctly ‘Persian Winter’. In a historic period of leadership transitions, serious trouble could be brewing for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Jahan Navidi recently completed his final year of a combined Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International & Global Studies at the University of Sydney.

The article may be accessed on pages 32-33 of the “Shifting Seats” edition of The Sydney Globalist, or below: http://thesydneyglobalist.org/2012/09/irans-2009-green-movement-revisited-2012-and-beyond/

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The Forgotten Player in Nuclear Chess

On 5 October 1986, the British newspaper The S...

On 5 October 1986, the British newspaper The Sunday Times ran the story on its front page under the headline: “Revealed: the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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This article originally appeared in The Sydney Globalist’s “Faith Game” Edition in 2013. It explores Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and recommends their inclusion in the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

From the deplorable events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the Cuban Missile crisis, and more recently the seemingly endless impasse over possible future proliferation in the Middle East, nuclear weapons remain a pertinent topic of discussion within International Security .

However, an oft-neglected component of this debate lies in the weapons capacity of the Middle East’s only established nuclear power – Israel. Whilst officially maintaining a status of nuclear ambiguity, ‘whistle-blowers’ such as Mordechai Vanunu have estimated Israel’s nuclear capacity is approximately 150-200 nuclear warheads. Yet Israel, along with India, Pakistan and North Korea remains one of only four countries outside the scope of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This article explores Israel’s clandestine nuclear program and concludes by suggesting Israel’s nuclear weapons must become an integral part of the debate in tackling nuclear proliferation.

Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Israel’s intentional policy of nuclear opacity has made it considerably difficult to piece together information on the origins of its nuclear program. Yet this blanket censorship has failed to silence all of those involved in its development. These select individuals have provided compelling evidence of the existence of Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

It is widely believed that the program began under the guise of the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, in response to their perceived security predicament. By developing a formidable nuclear arsenal , Israel aimed to gain significant strategic advantages over their neighbours by utilising the nuclear bomb as a deterrent.

Indeed, Israeli nuclear expert Avner Cohen has argued that their capacity was bolstered by support from the French government in the 1950s and 1960s, under a French-Israeli nuclear deal. France, which developed its own nuclear weapons program around the same time, provided Israel with the know-how to develop weapons capabilities. Specifically, the Dimona nuclear facility was established to enrich uranium, enabling Israel’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

As prominent realists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have argued, the United States has, since 1968, acknowledged Israel’s nuclear weapons and “tacitly supported Israel’s effort to maintain regional military superiority by turning a blind eye towards its various clandestine WMD programs.”

Vanunu the Whistleblower:

Former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu has revealed important logistical details on the country’s nuclear program. Vanunu’s leaked reports and photographs of his work at the Dimona facility have provided systematic evidence of the existence, nature, and scope of Israel’s nuclear weapons.

Subsequently, Vanunu has become a prime target of the Israeli secret service. Whilst abroad in Rome in 1986, following a revealing interview with the Sunday Times, he was poisoned and abducted. Forcibly removed to Israel, Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years in gaol and continues to face significant restrictions on his civil liberties.

Vanunu’s efforts have thus shed considerable light on the extent of the Israeli nuclear program – and the extent to which their security apparatus was willing to silence opposition.

International Law:

Yet Israel remains one of only four countries not bound by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Their nuclear program has avoided significant inspections since the 1960s, and, alongside security risks, has posed a health hazard to nearby residents in Dimona who have complained of radiation poisoning. More recently, secret ministerial documents suggest Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa in 1975 at the height of the Apartheid regime.

Israel’s blanket refusal to join the 189 other states party to the NPT suggests a necessary player has been excluded from the debate on nuclear proliferation.  Whilst an NPT Review Conference Resolution was passed in 2010 urging Israel to place its nuclear weapons program under the inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), US veto power within the Security Council, and the absence of any international treaty obligations mean this is of little practical value.

The Future

Rather than being isolated, sanctioned or criticised, the Israeli nuclear weapons program is deliberately overlooked by countries such as the United States, France and the UK. Indeed, America continues to support Israel, providing in excess of three billion dollars of unconditional aid annually – more so than any other country.

Yet these supporters are quick to condemn and impose sanctions on nation-states for pursuing nuclear programs which, in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, remain civilian-oriented, and under the supervision of the IAEA. Whilst Israel continues to criticise countries for pursuing nuclear programs, it refuses to submit to international obligations itself.

Equipped with such an understanding of Israel’s clandestine nuclear program, it is hard not to see the hypocrisy and inconsistency of its nuclear rhetoric.

It is only by engaging Israel on an even playing field and placing Israel’s nuclear program under the auspices of the IAEA that the efficacy and credibility of the NPT may be bolstered. This will go some way to reducing double standards, by dealing with issues of nuclear proliferation in a more transparent and consistent manner.

Jahan Navidi recently completed his final year of a combined Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International & Global Studies at the University of Sydney.

Available on page 13, of “The Faith Game” edition of The Sydney Globalist, accessible here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/132739737/The-Sydney-Globalist-Volume-VIII-Issue-II-The-Faith-Game-Religion-Humanity-and-Political-Action

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Getting Started

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After much deliberation, I have finally decided to create this blog as an outlet for my articles, essays and miscellaneous thoughts and travels. Feedback is always welcomed!

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