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Sep-08-2011 18:48printcomments

Secrets Between Friends?

The U.S. – Israeli link has for several decades determined the course of events in the Middle East and on the global arena.

Steward D. Nozette
Steward D. Nozette. Photo: EPA

(MOSCOW) - A U.S. space scientist, formerly employed by the government has pleaded guilty on charges of espionage and agreed to a 13-year sentence. If he had not pleaded guilty, he could have faced death penalty or life in prison.

54-year-old Steward D. Nozette worked at the White House in 1989 – 1990 on a project aimed at discovering water on the moon. In the 1990s he worked for the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Also, he worked on the “Star Wars” missile defense project and had access to the nation’s most guarded nuclear secrets.

From 1998 to 2008, he consulted a state-owned Israeli company working in the field of aerospace, and was paid a total of $225,000. Later, Dr. Nozette confessed to an undercover F.B.I. agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer that he believed that the company he had been consulting was a front for Israeli intelligence.

The undercover agent contacted Dr. Nozette in 2009 and presented himself as a Mossad officer. Dr. Nozette said he was glad to be of assistance and confessed that he thought he was already working for them.

In fact, the charges against Dr. Nozette do not presuppose that Israel or any of its agencies were involved in the whole espionage case. But several points are worth highlighting.

One thing is that the whole case came as no surprise. Yes, Dr. Nozette is probably one of the most high-ranking scientists ever charged with espionage in the U.S. But this is not what makes the case significant. The simple fact that Dr. Nozette thought that he was working for Israeli intelligence for about 10 years and saw nothing strange in the fact raises questions about the true nature of U.S. – Israeli strategic alliance.

The U.S. – Israeli link has for several decades determined the course of events in the Middle East and on the global arena. It would be only natural to assume that the alliance presupposed closest cooperation in numerous sensitive fields including the covert exchange of technologies. Then why would any intelligence agency in any of the two countries want to use other ways than the official cooperation between the spy agencies? Or, does it not signal that the alliance is not as firm as one might think?

Also, the timing for the disclosure of Dr. Nozette’s case seems significant. The current period of U.S. – Israeli relations is probably one of the most difficult ones in the whole history. The moment of official declaration of Palestine’s independence is approaching and seems imminent. Israel is trying hard to mobilize its allies in the West in order to prevent it from happening. But the greater the Israeli activity, the more complicated the situation the U.S. finds itself in.

Last spring, there already was a diplomatic row between the two countries when Barack Obama called on Israel to agree to return to 1967 borders. The proposal created disturbance both in bilateral relations and inside the U.S. Several American lawmakers blamed President Obama for “betraying Israel”. Now that the campaign for 2012 elections is gaining momentum, the issue of U.S. – Israeli relations is likely to attain greater importance. President Obama has been viewed by too many as leaning towards Arabs and Islam. And this view can be used as a trump card by his opponents.

Also, against the background of the “Arab spring”, it becomes more and more difficult for the U.S. to staunchly oppose Palestinian independence for fear of spoiling relations with the newly attained friends in the “new Middle East democracies”. This poses a dilemma for Washington – what’s to be done when the Palestinian issue is brought to the U.N. Security Council?

In such context, a spy case comes very handy. It can provide the White House with an excuse for not opposing Palestinian independence too staunchly and also it can supply the incumbent President with a lever enabling him to at least partly silence the pro-Israeli lobby within the country.

Source: Secrets between friends? - Voice of Russia

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