The U.S. is finalizing a ten-year memorandum of understanding which will reportedly boost aid to $4-5 billion per year. Grant F. Smith, Director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), in the suit challenges the authority of the president and U.S. federal agencies to deliver such foreign aid to Israel. Such aid violates longstanding bans on aid to non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) with nuclear weapons programs. Since the bans went into effect, U.S. foreign aid to Israel is estimated to be $234 billion.
The lawsuit reveals how in the mid-1970s during investigations into the illegal diversion of weapons-grade uranium from U.S. contractor NUMEC to Israel, Senators Stuart Symington and John Glenn amended the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act to ban any aid to clandestine nuclear powers that were not NPT signatories. Symington clarified the legislative intent of the amendments: “…if you wish to take the dangerous and costly steps necessary to achieve a nuclear weapons option, you cannot expect the United States to help underwrite that effort indirectly or directly.”
The Obama administration follows precedents established since the Ford administration by ignoring internal agency and public domain information that should trigger Symington & Glenn cutoffs and waiver provisions governing foreign aid. The administration has gone further in criminalizing the flow of such information from the federal government to the public.
In 2012 the Department of Energy under U.S. State Department authority passed a secret gag law called “Guidance on Release of Information relating to the Potential for an Israeli Nuclear Capability.” The gag law and related measures promote a “nuclear ambiguity” policy toward Israel. The primary purpose of the gag law is to unlawfully subvert Symington & Glenn arms export controls, the suit alleges.
IRmep’s Center for Policy and Law is holding a conference call briefing about the lawsuit August 11 at 10 AM EST. Register online here to receive the conference call phone number, access code and briefing materials. Registration closes 9 PM on August 10.
IRmep is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit researching U.S. Middle East policy formulation.