Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Marshall Islands Versus the World’s Nuclear Weapons States

The historic US nuclear testing site is taking its case for disarmament to the International Court of Justice.

The Nation | Peter Weiss | January 26, 2015


The Baker nuclear test, part of Operation Crossroads, on Bikini Atoll in the Marshalls Islands, July 25, 1946. (US Army)

Before “Bikini” became the name of a piece of female attire, it was the name of an atoll, part of the 1,156 islands and islets making up what is now the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). In 2010, at RMI’s request, Bikini was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List because of its historic importance as the site of twenty-three nuclear tests conducted by the United States between 1946 and 1958. There were sixty-seven US tests in the Marshall Islands altogether.

Now RMI has invoked the aid of another UN agency: the International Court of Justice in The Hague (not to be confused with the International Criminal Court). Last April, in an extraordinary and commendable act of chutzpah, RMI sued all nine states currently possessing nuclear weapons—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—accusing them of violating their duty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of those horrific weapons.

The theory of the case is based on three distinct but overlapping principles. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968, each party “undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” The 1996 advisory opinion of the ICJ in the nuclear weapons case asserted that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament.” The addition of the words “and bring to a conclusion” was important and made clear that just negotiating, without reaching a specific objective, was not enough. Customary international law also supports the legal obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons.

In some ways the NPT obligation, being treaty based, is the strongest arrow in RMI’s bow. But there is a small problem: four of the accused states (India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea) are not members of the NPT. The obligation proclaimed by the ICJ and that flowing from customary international law are applicable to every country in the world. But there is another problem: of the nine accused states, only three—India, Pakistan and the UK—are subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. (The United States, which was a great promoter of the ICJ in its early years, renounced compulsory jurisdiction in 1985 while the case involving military and paramilitary operations against Nicaragua was pending).

RMI has asked the other six states to submit voluntarily to the court’s jurisdiction, but it remains to be seen whether any of them will do so. In the three cases actually pending, India and Pakistan have advised the court that they intend to file objections, and the UK is expected to follow suit. At this point it is not known exactly what the objections are or will be, but it stands to reason that the court will have to be satisfied that there is a genuine legal dispute between the plaintiff state and the defendants in order to proceed. In this respect RMI can argue that, as a member of the international community, it has the right and duty to enforce an obligation of fundamental and universal importance. It can also argue that, given the planetary consequences of a nuclear war, it can be adversely affected by such a war, no matter where it takes place.

The latter argument is not as farfetched as it may seem. Last December, the government of Austria sponsored the third of three conferences in two years on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Each was attended by about 125 to 150 governments and was largely ignored by the mainstream media. The Summary of Findings of the Vienna Conference included the following paragraph:

The impact of a nuclear weapon detonation, irrespective of the cause, would not be constrained by national borders and could have regional and even global consequences, causing destruction, death and displacement as well as profound and long-term damage to the environment, climate, human health and well-being, socioeconomic development, social order and could even threaten the survival of humankind.

RMI is represented at the ICJ by Tony deBrum, the country’s foreign minister, and Phon van den Biesen, a Dutch lawyer experienced in ICJ litigation. They are backed by a team of international law experts who are taking the cases very seriously. A substantial number of civil society organizations are supporting the cases, including the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy in New York and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara.

One effect of the RMI initiative is to throw a spotlight on the policies of the nuclear weapons states, which claim to be committed to a nuclear weapons–free world while showing not the slightest willingness to reach that goal. Reduction, which can go on forever, is fundamentally different from elimination, which reaches an end point. The legal obligation to conclude negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament is not met by shrinking a nation’s nuclear arsenal from 600 to 300 weapons, as France has done, nor by the agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce the stockpile of deployed long-range nuclear warheads each to 1,550 by 2018, as was done in the New START Treaty negotiated in 2010. One might add that the deterioration of relations between these two countries has made further reductions unlikely for the foreseeable future—not to mention the fact that, according to a projection by the Monterey Institute, the United States plans to spend about $1 trillion over the next three decades to modernize its nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

The Marshall Islands initiative may be a long shot, but it is not a fool’s errand. It is a cri de coeur by a people who, like the hibakusha of Japan, have experienced the barbarism of nuclear weapons on their own bodies and their own lands. It comes at a time when the members of the NPT, at the upcoming quinquennial review conference, may at long last decide to take concrete measures toward nuclear disarmament, or face the possibility of seeing the treaty disintegrate. Many civil society organizations will do their utmost to bring about the former. It also comes at a time when too many policy-makers, having lived so long with nuclear weapons, are beginning to regard them as just another kind of weapon, instead of the uniquely atrocious one that it is. To them, the Marshall Islanders are saying what the nuclear scientist Joseph Rotblat said to whoever was willing to listen when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995: “Remember your humanity.”

Obama’s Prague vision of a nuclear weapons–free world has faded. It’s time to endorse Tony deBrum’s.

Information about civil society events before and during the NPT Review Conference in April and May is available at

India, US Reach Breakthrough on Nuclear Deal Following Obama Visit

Sputnik News | Asia & Pacific | 25.01.2015


India has secured a nuclear deal, previously subject to delays, as a result of Obama’s visit to the country.

MOSCOW, January 25 (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have announced a breakthrough on a nuclear deal between the two countries following a meeting, Reuters reported.

“We have broken the logjam over the past few years on the civil nuclear issue,” Indian Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh said during a press conference after the talks between US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The meeting, highlighted by a strong personal chemistry between the two leaders, has led to the implementation of a nuclear pact originally signed in 2008, which will give India access to civilian nuclear technology, according to AFP. The agreement’s implementation previously stalled due to US fears after India’s nuclear legislature, putting the blame for any accidents on suppliers, significantly hampered the process. In addition, India has been excluded from world cooperation in nuclear energy for decades since it is not a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“We are committed to moving towards full implementation and this is an important step that shows how we can work together to elevate our relationship,” Obama told AP.

On Monday, the US leader will attend India’s Republic Day celebrations as a chief guest, with his wife, Michelle Obama. It will mark the first time the US president has been invited to the parade.

This is also the first time an incumbent US president has made a second visit to India. The first official trip of Barack Obama to New Delhi took place in November 2010.

Ahead of the current US president’s visit, Indian authorities took unprecedented security measures, with thousands of personnel deployed in India’s capital.

Following a visit to India earlier in January, US Secretary of State John Kerry, stated that the two countries will strengthen their partnership in combating terrorism, deepen their dialogue on key political and security issues, as well as boost sustainable economic development and growth in both countries.

Fukushima Watch: Regulator Calls on Tepco to Discharge Tritium Water

Wall Street Journal | Mari Iwata | January 21, 2015



Water tanks storing contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are seen in this photo from November. European Pressphoto Agency

Japan’s nuclear regulator has officially called on Tokyo Electric Power Co. to work toward discharging low-level contaminated water into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The call on Wednesday comes just two days after a worker fell into one of the hundreds of tanks used to store contaminated water at the plant during an inspection, a fatal accident that has refocused attention on the need for improved safety measures and a longer term solution for the huge amounts of water in storage.

“Tokyo Electric Power must consider whether it (storing the water) is really necessary,” said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, at a regular board meeting Wednesday. “It is surely harmful if it leads to the death of workers.”

The regulator discussed Wednesday a draft timetable for action by Tepco to address risks at the plant that sets out a 2017 start for discharging the water. The draft is likely to be approved next week.

The International Atomic Energy Agency already recommended more than a year ago that Tepco consider releasing water with low level tritium contamination in a controlled way so that it could focus on other issues.

A Tepco spokesman, speaking after Mr. Tanaka’s remarks, said the company wasn’t currently considering releasing the water into the ocean.

Contaminated water has been a constant headache for the operator of the plant since the triple meltdowns in March 2011. A large amount of groundwater is flowing into the site, adding 300 to 400 tons to the amount of highly contaminated water at the plant on a daily basis.

Tepco is using a processing system to remove radioactive material from the highly contaminated water, but the system is unable to take out the tritium. Tepco has been storing the tritium-contaminated water in about 1,000 tanks, but is reluctant to release it into the ocean to avoid adding to tension with local communities and criticism from neighboring countries and some nations with a Pacific Ocean coastline.

But the power company is close to running out of space to build new tanks at the plant and workers are increasingly under pressure to juggle their other duties with the ever-increasing workload of tank management, prompting the IAEA call in late 2013.

Tritium is considered one of the least harmful radioactive materials at nuclear plants. Water contaminated with tritium is discharged from plants elsewhere in the world after dilution.

However, there is no detailed study about tritium’s long-time effect on animal genes. Mamoru Takata, a Kyoto University professor and expert on radiation’s long-term effects, said monitoring would be necessary to detect any worrisome signals.

Study: Fukushima plume spread worldwide

Study: Fukushima plume spread worldwide, far exceeding the hundreds of miles mentioned previously — 100 Quadrillion becquerels of Cs-137 released tops Chernobyl — “Implicates radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked”

ENENews | January 21st, 2015

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (pdf), University of Florida College of Medicine, Weill-Cornell Medical College, etc. (2014):

  • The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident is an example of a contemporary nuclear plant accident with serious implications.
  • The Fukushima NPP accident has had health implications due to the high levels of radiation released and vast area over which the radiation has disperse.
  • The significant radiation release, as likened to Chernobyl, reflects the context and severity of the Fukushima accident.
  • The level of 137Cs that was released is likened to Chernobyl levels, with 100,000 TBq released.
  • Radioactive plume dispersion occurs worldwide, far exceeding 300 miles previously mentioned. This should implicate radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked.

Potassium Iodide Distribution

  • Radioactive plumes from the Chernobyl accident containing 131I caused benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop, especially in children within a 310 miles radius of the incident.
  • The current recommendation is for KI [potassium iodide] availability to people 200 miles from a NPP. Plume radii for nuclear events have been shown to exceed 300 [miles]. Extension of KI availability to 300 miles only further underscores the inadequacy of current preparedness plans.
  • In regard to KI prophylaxis, TEPCO utilized 17,500 KI tablets for 2,000 onsite workers… with one individual receiving and taking 85 tablets.
  • Radiological plumes containing 131I cause benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop within a 300 mile radius… This necessitates KI pre-distribution to all schools, hospitals and other of-interest sites extending 300 miles from any nuclear reactor. Evacuation or sequestering is impossible in congested urban areas… There is currently virtually no compliance with [the] 20 miles radius KI pre-distribution law, section 127 of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. In fact, there is little compliance with the 10 miles Ki pre-distribution radius law in the United States.
  • Japan did not utilize KI for prophylaxis of the general public, acknowledging it was not prepared to act accordingly.

See also:

View the study here

The Nuclear Weapons “Procurement Holiday”

FAS – Strategic Security | Hans M. Kristensen | Jan.21, 2015

By Hans M. Kristensen

It has become popular among military and congressional leaders to argue that the United States has had a “procurement holiday” in nuclear force planning for the past two decades.

“Over the past 20-25 years, we took a procurement holiday” in modernizing U.S. nuclear forces, Major General Garrett Harencak, the Air Force’s assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, said in a speech yesterday.

Harencak’s claim strongly resembles the statement made by then-commander of US Air Force Global Strike Command, Lt. General Jim Kowalski, that the United States had “taken about a 20 year procurement holiday since the Soviet Union dissolved.”

Kowalski, who is now deputy commander at US Strategic Command, made a similar claim in May 2012: “Our nation has enjoyed an extended procurement holiday as we’ve deferred vigorous modernization of our nuclear deterrent forces for almost 20 years.”

One can always want more, but the “procurement holiday” claim glosses over the busy nuclear modernization and maintenance efforts of the past two decades.

About That Holiday…

If “holiday” generally refers to “a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done,” then its been a bad holiday. For during the “procurement holiday” described by Harencak, the United States has been busy fielding and upgrading submarines, bombers, missiles, cruise missiles, gravity bombs, reentry vehicles, command and control satellites, warhead surveillance and production facilities (see image below).



Despite claims about a two-decade long nuclear weapons “procurement holiday,” the United States has actually been busy modernizing and maintaining its nuclear forces.

The not-so-procurement-holiday includes fielding of eight of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (the last in 1997), fielding of the Trident II sea-launched ballistic missile (the world’s most reliable nuclear missile), all 21 B-2A stealth bombers (the last in 2000), an $8 billion-plus complete overhaul of the entire Minuteman III ICBM force including back-fitting it with the W87 warhead, five B61 bomb modifications, one modification of the B83 bomb, a nuclear cruise missile, the W88 warhead, completed three smaller life-extensions of the W87 ICBM warhead and two B61 modifications, and developed and commenced full-scale production of the modified W76-1 warhead.

Harencak’s job obviously is to advocate nuclear modernization but glossing over the considerable efforts that have been done to maintain the nuclear deterrent for the past two decades is, well, kind of embarrassing.

Russia and China have continued to introduce new weapons and the United States is falling behind, so the warning from Harencak and others goes. But modernizations happen in cycles. Generally speaking, the previous Russian strategic modernization happened in the 1970s and 1980s (the country was down on its knees much of the 1990s), so now we’re seeing their next round of modernizations. Similarly, China modernized in the 1970s and 1980s so now we’re seeing their next cycle. (For an overview about worldwide nuclear weapons modernization programs, see this article.)

The United States modernized later (1980s-2000s), and since then has focused more on refurbishing and life-extending existing weapons instead of wasting money on mindlessly deploying new systems.

What the next cycle of U.S. nuclear modernizations should look like, how much is needed and with what kinds of capabilities, requires a calm and intelligent assessment.

Comparing Nuclear Apples and Oranges With a Vengeance

“Once you strip away all the emotions, once you strip away all the ‘I just don’t like nuclear weapons,’ OK fine. Alright. And I would love to live in a world that doesn’t have it. But you live in this world. And in this world there still is a nuclear threat,” Harencak said yesterday in an apparent rejection of at least part of his Commander-in-Chief’s 2009 Prague speech.

“This nuclear deterrent, here in January 2015, I’m here to tell you, is relevant and is as needed today as it was in January 1965, and 1975, and 1985, and 1995. And it will be till that happy day comes when we rid the world of nuclear weapons. It will be just as relevant in 2025, ten years from now…it will still be as relevant,” he claimed.

God forbid we have emotions when assessing the nuclear mission, but I fear Harencak may be doing the deterrent mission a disservice with his over-zealot nuclear advocacy that belittles other views and time-jumps from Cold War relevance to today’s world.

Whether or not one believes that nuclear weapons are relevant and needed (or to what extent) in today’s world, to suggest that they are as relevant and as needed today as during the nail-biting and gong-ho conditions that characterized the Cold War demonstrates a surprising lack of understanding and perspective. Remember: the Cold War that held the world hostage at gunpoint with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons deployed around the world only minutes from global annihilation?

Even with Russian and Chinese nuclear modernizations, there is no indication that today’s threats or challenges are even remotely as dire or as intense as the Cold War.

Instead of false claims about “procurement holiday” and demonization of other views – listen for example to Harencak’s new bomber argument: if you don’t want to pay for my grant child to destroy enemy targets with the next-generation bomber, then send your own grandchild! – how about an intelligent debate about how much is needed, for what purpose, and at what cost?

This publication was made possible by a grant from the New Land Foundation and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

Toshiba negotiating nuclear power deals with China, Kazakhstan

REUTERS | DAVOS, Switzerland | Thu Jan 22, 2015

Jan 22 (Reuters) – Toshiba Corp is in negotiations to supply equipment for several nuclear reactors in China and is also discussing a contract for plants in Kazakhstan, the chairman of the Japanese conglomerate said on Thursday.

Toshiba already has a leading position in the Chinese nuclear power market and is looking to build on this through its Westinghouse Electric unit.

“Potentially, we have the opportunity to get other business in China but it is not fixed yet,” Masashi Muromachi told Reuters on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Asked to comment on media reports that Toshiba would supply equipment for six to eight nuclear reactors in China, he said the number of plants involved was “not so different”.

In addition, fresh business to supply nuclear reactors in Kazakhstan was “under negotiation”, he said.

Emerging economies are increasingly looking to nuclear power as a way to curb carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming, although a plunging oil price could change some of those incentives in the long term.

“It won’t have too much impact on nuclear for the moment but in future I’m very afraid that attention to climate change issues will be slowing down because of the oil price,” Muromachi said. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)


Chutzpah Squared: Bibi and Boehner

Lobe Log | Jim Lobe | January 22nd, 2015



As Mitchell Plitnick pointed out on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress on February 11, although now it appears that Bibi would like to put off the occasion until March 3, when AIPAC will be holding its annual policy conference and unleashing its 12,000-plus attendees on Capitol Hill. The lobby group presumably aims to persuade its members of Congress to do everything they can to sabotage a possible nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran—as well as bolster Bibi’s chances of retaining the premiership in the March 17 elections in Israel. Much has happened that is relevant to the visit imn the last 24 hours, and a brief round-up, which unfortunately is all that I have time for today, seems in order.

The invitation was clearly arranged without any notification of or coordination with the White House, which, as Mitchell reported, noted that its handling appeared to be “a departure from protocol.” It also appears now that Boehner didn’t even consult Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who, in addition to complaining about the negative impact Netanyahu’s appearance might have on the negotiations, explained on Thursday that the common practice is for the two leaders from each party to agree before issuing an invitation to a foreign leader:

…[I]t’s out of the ordinary that the Speaker would decide that he would be inviting people to a Joint Session without any bipartisan consultation. And of course, we always—our friendship with Israel is a very strong one. Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken to the Joint Session two times already. And there are concerns about the fact that this—as I understand it from this morning—that this presentation will take place within two weeks of the election in Israel. I don’t think that’s appropriate for any country—that the head of state would come here within two weeks of his own election in his own country.

Meanwhile, the White House announced that Obama won’t meet Netanyahu for the same reason: “As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told reporters in an emailed statement. Kerry won’t meet with Bibi either, according to the State Department.

Meanwhile, Obama’s position that Congress should give diplomacy a chance by not enacting new sanctions legislation got a key endorsement from the presumed front-runner in the 2016 Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton. Speaking at a conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she said:

If we’re the reason—through our Congress—that in effect gives Iran and others the excuse not to continue the negotiations, that would be, in my view, a very serious strategic error…Why do we want to be the catalyst for the collapse of negotiations until we really know whether there’s something we can get out of them that will make the world safer [and] avoid an arms race in the Middle East?…[R]ight now, the status quo that we’re in is in my view in our interests and therefore I don’t want to do anything that disrupts the status quo until we have a better idea as to whether there’s something we can get out of it.

Clinton’s position, of course, should be quite helpful in keep wavering Democrats in line. And, in the wake of Obama’s veto threat and Boehner’s invitation to Bibi, it seems that even some of the Democratic co-sponsors of the original Kirk-Menendez bill are moving in the White House’s direction. “I’m considering very seriously the very cogent points that he’s made in favor of delaying any congressional action,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal told Politico. “I’m talking to colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I think they are thinking, and rethinking, their positions in light of the points that the president and his team are making to us.”

The fact that he would mention that some Republicans may also be “rethinking” their positions, while not provable yet, is significant, particularly in light of today’s Washington Post op-ed, “Give Diplomacy a Chance,” by the foreign ministers of France, Britain, and Germany and the high representative of the European Union (EU) for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, with whom Kerry met on Wednesday. The four of them could not have been clearer:

Maintaining pressure on Iran through our existing sanctions is essential. But introducing new hurdles at this critical stage of the negotiations, including through additional nuclear-related sanctions legislation on Iran, would jeopardize our efforts at a critical juncture. While many Iranians know how much they stand to gain by overcoming isolation and engaging with the world, there are also those in Tehran who oppose any nuclear deal. We should not give them new arguments. New sanctions at this moment might also fracture the international coalition that has made sanctions so effective so far. Rather than strengthening our negotiating position, new sanctions legislation at this point would set us back. [Emphasis added.]

It’s worth remembering that the writers of that statement include the foreign ministers of Washington’s three closest European and NATO allies—the countries (at least Britain and France) that Americans normally think of when a politician, including the Republican variety, talks about building closer ties with “our traditional allies.” Asked to choose between Israel and Washington’s western allies that, unlike Israel, have suffered real casualties alongside U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, some Republicans may not find it to so easy to follow AIPAC’s lead, despite rich campaign rewards dangled by the billionaire donors in the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), notably its chairman, Sheldon Adelson. So, when Boehner told Politico Thursday, “Let’s send a clear message to the White House — and the world — about our commitment to Israel and our allies,” he failed to clarify which “allies” he was referring to.

Of course, Europe is also Israel’s biggest trading partner by far, and European leaders and parliaments have been expressing increasing frustration over the past year with Netanyahu’s positions on Israel-Palestine as well as the general rightward drift of Israeli politics. In his last foreign venture, Netanyahu made himself thoroughly obnoxious in France. By being seen as actively trying to sabotage an agreement with Iran that, if it is indeed concluded, will gain the strong backing of the president of the United States and the leaders of Washington’s closest European allies, Netanyahu will isolate Israel even more from its western supporters.

That may be part of the reason why Israel’s national-security professionals have apparently been willing to go “rogue,” as Josh Rogin and Eli Lake called it in their big story Wednesday on Bloomberg about dissent in the Israeli intelligence community regarding the potentially disastrous impact of new sanctions legislation on the Iran negotiations. The intelligence community did this before when Netanyahu and Ehud Barak were repeatedly threatening to attack Iran earlier this decade. Although Mossad’s director issued an extremely unusual statement on Thursday denying any opposition to new sanctions, the phrasing indicated a certain lack of conviction.

Meanwhile, it will be very interesting to find out who initiated the idea that Netanyahu should be invited to address Congress at such a critical moment and to do so without any consultation with the State Department, the White House, or the minority leader in Congress. It’s hard to believe that either Boehner or McConnell would have the temperament or imagination to act on their own. One wonders whether Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer or someone at the RJC or Bill Kristol thought it was a great idea. Or maybe it was Bibi himself. Certainly the Emergency Committee for Israel welcomes the visit and plans to hold a reception for Bibi when he gets to Washington. Still, it’s hard to figure out how Israel’s relations with the United States or Europe are going to be improved by this.

AN ADDITIONAL THOUGHT: I think mainstream Jewish organizations that place a high stock in maintaining their bipartisan identity — including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, and even AIPAC — are going to have a difficult time dealing with this situation due to the fact that Boehner has acted in such a transparently partisan manner. It’s important to remember that both Kristol’s ECI and Adelson’s favorite Zionist group, the Zionist Organization of America, implicitly attacked AIPAC last February for essentially throwing in the towel on the Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill precisely because the powerful lobby group had run into a solid wall of Democratic opposition and didn’t want to risk its bipartisan image. As Kristol said at the time, “[I]t would be terrible if history’s judgment on the pro-Israel community was that it made a fetish of bipartisanship — and got a nuclear Iran.” If Democrats line up strongly against Boehner’s and Bibi’s little coup, that same community is going to have to make some hard decisions.

Digitally altered photo of Benjamin Netanyahu pointing to a picture of John Boehner courtesy of @pdmastersnyu