Book TV: Thomas Reed, “Nuclear Express”
Thomas Reed: A Political History of Nuclear Weapons: 1938 – 2008
Thomas C. Reed, former Secretary of the Air Force and nuclear weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories talks about the book “The Nuclear Express”, which he co-authored with Danny B. Stillman. At a luncheon seminar at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, he talks about the political history of nuclear weapons: where they came from, the surprising ways in which the technology spread, who is likely to acquire them next and why.
Cold Warriors: US Presidents after the Second World War – Thomas C. Reed
Synopsis | The Nuclear Express By Thomas C. Reed
Background Information and Videos
Nuclear Power and Bomb Testing Documentary Film
Nuclear Weapons (The History)
The BBC Film That Exposed Israel’s Secret Illegal Nuclear Weapons (FULL Documentary)
The Untold Story Of Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions
Iranium – The Islamic Republic’s Race to Obtain Nuclear Weapons
A timely and powerful documentary presenting the danger posed to the free world by a nuclear Iran. The film exposes the radical Islamic ideology guiding Iran’s leaders, and the destruction it causes.
Thomas C. Reed
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thomas Care Reed (born March 1, 1934) was the 11th Secretary of the Air Force from January 2, 1976 – April 6, 1977 under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.
He was born in New York City, N.Y., in 1934. He attended Deerfield Academy, and then received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, graduating first in his class in 1956. As an undergraduate, he was enrolled in Cornell’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program and was the highest-ranking officer, cadet colonel, during his senior year. He was designated a distinguished military graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation. Reed was elected into the Sphinx Head Society during his senior year.
Reed began active duty with the Air Force in November 1956, and served until 1959 as technical project officer for the Minuteman Re-Entry Vehicle System with the Air Force’s Ballistic Missile Division. While on this assignment, he attended the University of Southern California during off-duty hours and earned a master of science degree in electrical engineering.
In 1959, he was assigned to the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory of the University of California, engaged in thermonuclear weapons physics. He was released from active duty with the Air Force in May 1961, but he rejoined the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory as a civilian for the 1962 test series, continuing there as a consultant until 1967.
In 1962, Reed organized Supercon Ltd. of Houston, Texas, as its managing partner. Supercon developed and produced alloys superconducting at cryogenic temperatures.
While maintaining an interest in Supercon Ltd., Reed organized the Quaker Hill Development Corporation at San Rafael, California, in 1965, and served as its treasurer, president and chairman. Quaker Hill has agricultural, recreational and construction projects in California and Colorado.
Reed joined the Department of Defense as an assistant to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense in 1973, and was appointed director of Telecommunications and Command and Control Systems in February 1974.
Reed was also active in the political world. He was an organizer for Ronald Reagan‘s first campaign for governor of California in 1966. He helped finance Governor Reagan’s first unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1968. Reed established a national network of political operatives and hired F. Clifton White, the noted political strategist, to guide the effort. Reagan lost to Richard Nixon. Reed managed Reagan’s successful gubernatorial re-election campaign in 1970. In 1972, Reed performed as a national operative for theNixon presidential re-election drive. Reagan also ran unsuccessfully for the White House in 1976 and finally succeeded in 1980. Reed was not actively involved in either effort.
On March 9, 2004, At the Abyss: An Insider’s History of the Cold War, an autobiographical book about his experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory through his time as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan. It reveals new details about the 1962Cuban Missile Crisis, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Farewell Dossier, and other facets of the Cold War.
Reed’s second book, co-authored with Danny B. Stillman, was titled The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation and was published in January 2009. One of the authors’ most notable contentions is that in 1982 China made a policy decision to flood the developing world with atomic know-how. In February 2012 Reed published a spy novel The Tehran Triangle,(Black Garnet Press 2012). The book is about Iran’s attempt to build and ignite an A bomb in the USA
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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World map with nuclear weapons development status represented by color.
Five “nuclear weapons states” from the NPT
Other states known to possess nuclear weapons
States formerly possessing nuclear weapons
States suspected of being in the process of developing nuclear weapons and/or nuclear programs
States which at one point had nuclear weapons and/or nuclear weapons research programs
States that possess nuclear weapons, but have not widely adopted them
Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear weapons, fissionable material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information to nations not recognized as “Nuclear Weapon States” by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or NPT. Leading experts on nuclear proliferation, such as Etel Solingen of the University of California, Irvine, suggest that states’ decisions to build nuclear weapons is largely determined by the interests of their governing domestic coalitions.
Proliferation has been opposed by many nations with and without nuclear weapons, the governments of which fear that more countries with nuclear weapons may increase the possibility of nuclear warfare (up to and including the so-called “countervalue” targeting of civilians with nuclear weapons), de-stabilize international or regional relations, or infringe upon the national sovereignty of states.
Four countries besides the five recognized Nuclear Weapons States have acquired, or are presumed to have acquired, nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. None of these four is a party to the NPT, although North Korea acceded to the NPT in 1985, then withdrew in 2003 and conducted announced nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and 2013. One critique of the NPT is that it is discriminatory in recognizing as nuclear weapon states only those countries that tested nuclear weapons before 1968 and requiring all other states joining the treaty to forswear nuclear weapons.
Research into the development of nuclear weapons was undertaken during World War II by the United States (in cooperation with the United Kingdom and Canada) Germany, Japan, and the USSR. The United States was the first and is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon in war, when it used two bombs against Japan in August 1945. With their loss during the war, Germany and Japan ceased to be involved in any nuclear weapon research. In August 1949, the USSR tested a nuclear weapon. The United Kingdom tested a nuclear weapon in October 1952. France developed a nuclear weapon in 1960. The People’s Republic of China detonated a nuclear weapon in 1964. India exploded a nuclear device in 1974, and Pakistan tested a weapon in 1998. In 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test.
Early efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation involved intense government secrecy, the wartime acquisition of known uranium stores (the Combined Development Trust), and at times even outright sabotage—such as the bombing of a heavy-water facility thought to be used for a German nuclear program. None of these efforts were explicitly public, because the weapon developments themselves were kept secret until the bombing of Hiroshima.
Earnest international efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation began soon after World War II, when the Truman Administration proposed the Baruch Plan of 1946, named after Bernard Baruch, America’s first representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. The Baruch Plan, which drew heavily from the Acheson–Lilienthal Report of 1946, proposed the verifiable dismantlement and destruction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal (which, at that time, was the only nuclear arsenal in the world) after all governments had cooperated successfully to accomplish two things: (1) the establishment of an “international atomic development authority,” which would actually own and control all military-applicable nuclear materials and activities, and (2) the creation of a system of automatic sanctions, which not even the U.N. Security Council could veto, and which would proportionately punish states attempting to acquire the capability to make nuclear weapons or fissile material.
Baruch’s plea for the destruction of nuclear weapons invoked basic moral and religious intuitions. In one part of his address to the UN, Baruch said, “Behind the black portent of the new atomic age lies a hope which, seized upon with faith, can work out our salvation. If we fail, then we have damned every man to be the slave of Fear. Let us not deceive ourselves. We must elect World Peace or World Destruction…. We must answer the world’s longing for peace and security.” With this remark, Baruch helped launch the field ofnuclear ethics, to which many policy experts and scholars have contributed.
Although the Baruch Plan enjoyed wide international support, it failed to emerge from the UNAEC because the Soviet Union planned to veto it in the Security Council. Still, it remained official American policy until 1953, when President Eisenhower made his “Atoms for Peace” proposal before the U.N. General Assembly. Eisenhower’s proposal led eventually to the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1957. Under the “Atoms for Peace” program thousands of scientists from around the world were educated in nuclear science and then dispatched home, where many later pursued secret weapons programs in their home country.
Efforts to conclude an international agreement to limit the spread of nuclear weapons did not begin until the early 1960s, after four nations (the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and France) had acquired nuclear weapons (see List of states with nuclear weapons for more information). Although these efforts stalled in the early 1960s, they renewed once again in 1964, after China detonated a nuclear weapon. In 1968, governments represented at the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) finished negotiations on the text of the NPT. In June 1968, the U.N. General Assembly endorsed the NPT with General Assembly Resolution 2373 (XXII), and in July 1968, the NPT opened for signature in Washington, DC, London and Moscow. The NPT entered into force in March 1970.
Since the mid-1970s, the primary focus of non-proliferation efforts has been to maintain, and even increase, international control over the fissile material and specialized technologies necessary to build such devices because these are the most difficult and expensive parts of a nuclear weapons program. The main materials whose generation and distribution is controlled are highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Other than the acquisition of these special materials, the scientific and technical means for weapons construction to develop rudimentary, but working, nuclear explosive devices are considered to be within the reach of industrialized nations.
Since its founding by the United Nations in 1957, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has promoted two, sometimes contradictory, missions: on the one hand, the Agency seeks to promote and spread internationally the use of civilian nuclear energy; on the other hand, it seeks to prevent, or at least detect, the diversion of civilian nuclear energy to nuclear weapons, nuclear explosive devices or purposes unknown. The IAEA now operates a safeguards system as specified under Article III of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968, which aims to ensure that civil stocks of uranium, plutonium, as well as facilities and technologies associated with these nuclear materials, are used only for peaceful purposes and do not contribute in any way to proliferation or nuclear weapons programs. It is often argued that proliferation of nuclear weapons to many other states has been prevented by the extension of assurances and mutual defence treaties to these states by nuclear powers, but other factors, such as national prestige, or specific historical experiences, also play a part in hastening or stopping nuclear proliferation.
§Dual use technology
Dual-use technology refers to the possibility of military use of civilian nuclear power technology. Many technologies and materials associated with the creation of a nuclear power program have a dual-use capability, in that several stages of the nuclear fuel cycle allow diversion of nuclear materials for nuclear weapons. When this happens a nuclear power program can become a route leading to the atomic bomb or a public annex to a secret bomb program. The crisis over Iran’s nuclear activities is a case in point.
Many UN and US agencies warn that building more nuclear reactors unavoidably increases nuclear proliferation risks. A fundamental goal for American and global security is to minimize the proliferation risks associated with the expansion of nuclear power. If this development is “poorly managed or efforts to contain risks are unsuccessful, the nuclear future will be dangerous”. For nuclear power programs to be developed and managed safely and securely, it is important that countries have domestic “good governance” characteristics that will encourage proper nuclear operations and management:
These characteristics include low degrees of corruption (to avoid officials selling materials and technology for their own personal gain as occurred with the A.Q. Khan smuggling network in Pakistan), high degrees of political stability (defined by the World Bank as “likelihood that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including politically-motivated violence and terrorism”), high governmental effectiveness scores (a World Bank aggregate measure of “the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures [and] the quality of policy formulation and implementation”), and a strong degree of regulatory competence.
§Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
At present, 189 countries are States Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, more commonly known as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or NPT. These include the five Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) recognized by the NPT: thePeople’s Republic of China, France, Russian Federation, the UK, and the United States.
Notable non-signatories to the NPT are Israel, Pakistan, and India (the latter two have since tested nuclear weapons, while Israel is considered by most to be an unacknowledged nuclear weapons state). North Korea was once a signatory but withdrew in January 2003. The legality of North Korea’s withdrawal is debatable but as of 9 October 2006, North Korea clearly possesses the capability to make a nuclear explosive device.
§International Atomic Energy Agency
The IAEA was established on 29 July 1957 to help nations develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Allied to this role is the administration of safeguards arrangements to provide assurance to the international community that individual countries are honoring their commitments under the treaty. Though established under its own international treaty, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.
The IAEA regularly inspects civil nuclear facilities to verify the accuracy of documentation supplied to it. The agency checks inventories, and samples and analyzes materials. Safeguards are designed to deter diversion of nuclear material by increasing the risk of early detection. They are complemented by controls on the export of sensitive technology from countries such as UK and United States through voluntary bodies such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The main concern of the IAEA is that uranium not be enriched beyond what is necessary for commercial civil plants, and that plutonium which is produced by nuclear reactors not be refined into a form that would be suitable for bomb production.
§Scope of safeguard
Traditional safeguards are arrangements to account for and control the use of nuclear materials. This verification is a key element in the international system which ensures that uranium in particular is used only for peaceful purposes.
Parties to the NPT agree to accept technical safeguard measures applied by the IAEA. These require that operators of nuclear facilities maintain and declare detailed accounting records of all movements and transactions involving nuclear material. Over 550 facilities and several hundred other locations are subject to regular inspection, and their records and the nuclear material being audited. Inspections by the IAEA are complemented by other measures such as surveillance cameras and instrumentation.
The inspections act as an alert system providing a warning of the possible diversion of nuclear material from peaceful activities. The system relies on;
- Material Accountancy – tracking all inward and outward transfers and the flow of materials in any nuclear facility. This includes sampling and analysis of nuclear material, on-site inspections, and review and verification of operating records.
- Physical Security – restricting access to nuclear materials at the site.
- Containment and Surveillance – use of seals, automatic cameras and other instruments to detect unreported movement or tampering with nuclear materials, as well as spot checks on-site.
All NPT non-weapons states must accept these full-scope safeguards. In the five weapons states plus the non-NPT states (India, Pakistan and Israel), facility-specific safeguards apply. IAEA inspectors regularly visit these facilities to verify completeness and accuracy of records.
The terms of the NPT cannot be enforced by the IAEA itself, nor can nations be forced to sign the treaty. In reality, as shown in Iraq and North Korea, safeguards can be backed up by diplomatic, political and economic measures.
While traditional safeguards easily verified the correctness of formal declarations by suspect states, in the 1990s attention turned to what might not have been declared. While accepting safeguards at declared facilities, Iraq had set up elaborate equipment elsewhere in an attempt to enrich uranium to weapons grade. North Korea attempted to use research reactors (not commercial electricity-generating reactors) and a reprocessing plant to produce some weapons-grade plutonium.
The weakness of the NPT regime lay in the fact that no obvious diversion of material was involved. The uranium used as fuel probably came from indigenous sources, and the nuclear facilities were built by the countries themselves without being declared or placed under safeguards. Iraq, as an NPT party, was obliged to declare all facilities but did not do so. Nevertheless, the activities were detected and brought under control using international diplomacy. In Iraq, a military defeat assisted this process.
In North Korea, the activities concerned took place before the conclusion of its NPT safeguards agreement. With North Korea, the promised provision of commercial power reactors appeared to resolve the situation for a time, but it later withdrew from the NPT and declared it had nuclear weapons.
In 1993 a program was initiated to strengthen and extend the classical safeguards system, and a model protocol was agreed by the IAEA Board of Governors 1997. The measures boosted the IAEA’s ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities, including those with no connection to the civil fuel cycle.
Innovations were of two kinds. Some could be implemented on the basis of IAEA’s existing legal authority through safeguards agreements and inspections. Others required further legal authority to be conferred through an Additional Protocol. This must be agreed by each non-weapons state with IAEA, as a supplement to any existing comprehensive safeguards agreement. Weapons states have agreed to accept the principles of the model additional protocol.
Key elements of the model Additional Protocol:
- The IAEA is to be given considerably more information on nuclear and nuclear-related activities, including R & D, production of uranium and thorium (regardless of whether it is traded), and nuclear-related imports and exports.
- IAEA inspectors will have greater rights of access. This will include any suspect location, it can be at short notice (e.g., two hours), and the IAEA can deploy environmental sampling and remote monitoring techniques to detect illicit activities.
- States must streamline administrative procedures so that IAEA inspectors get automatic visa renewal and can communicate more readily with IAEA headquarters.
- Further evolution of safeguards is towards evaluation of each state, taking account of its particular situation and the kind of nuclear materials it has. This will involve greater judgement on the part of IAEA and the development of effective methodologies which reassure NPT States.
As of 20 December 2010, 139 countries have signed Additional Protocols, 104 have brought them into force, and one (Iraq) is implementing its protocol provisionally. The IAEA is also applying the measures of the Additional Protocol in Taiwan. Among the leading countries that have not signed the Additional Protocol are Egypt, which says it will not sign until Israel accepts comprehensive IAEA safeguards, and Brazil, which opposes making the protocol a requirement for international cooperation on enrichment and reprocessing, but has not ruled out signing.
§Limitations of Safeguards
The greatest risk from nuclear weapons proliferation comes from countries which have not joined the NPT and which have significant unsafeguarded nuclear activities; India, Pakistan, and Israel fall within this category. While safeguards apply to some of their activities, others remain beyond scrutiny.
A further concern is that countries may develop various sensitive nuclear fuel cycle facilities and research reactors under full safeguards and then subsequently opt out of the NPT. Bilateral agreements, such as insisted upon by Australia and Canada for sale ofuranium, address this by including fallback provisions, but many countries are outside the scope of these agreements. If a nuclear-capable country does leave the NPT, it is likely to be reported by the IAEA to the UN Security Council, just as if it were in breach of its safeguards agreement. Trade sanctions would then be likely.
IAEA safeguards can help ensure that uranium supplied as nuclear fuel and other nuclear supplies do not contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation. In fact, the worldwide application of those safeguards and the substantial world trade in uranium for nuclearelectricity make the proliferation of nuclear weapons much less likely.
The Additional Protocol, once it is widely in force, will provide credible assurance that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in the states concerned. This will be a major step forward in preventing nuclear proliferation.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group communicated its guidelines, essentially a set of export rules, to the IAEA in 1978. These were to ensure that transfers of nuclear material or equipment would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities, and formal government assurances to this effect were required from recipients. The Guidelines also recognised the need for physical protection measures in the transfer of sensitive facilities, technology and weapons-usable materials, and strengthened retransfer provisions. The group began with seven members – the United States, the former USSR, the UK, France, Germany, Canada and Japan – but now includes 46 countries including all five nuclear weapons states.
The International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation is an international project involving 25 partner countries, 28 observer and candidate partner countries, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Generation IV International Forum, and the European Commission. It´s goal is to “[..] provide competitive, commercially-based services as an alternative to a state’s development of costly, proliferation-sensitive facilities, and address other issues associated with the safe and secure management of used fuel and radioactive waste.”
According to Kenneth D. Bergeron’s Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power, tritium is not classified as a ‘special nuclear material’ but rather as a ‘by-product’. It is seen as an important litmus test on the seriousness of the United States’ intention to nuclear disarm. This radioactive super-heavy hydrogen isotope is used to boost the efficiency of fissile materials in nuclear weapons. The United States resumed tritium production in 2003 for the first time in 15 years. This could indicate that there is a potential nuclear arm stockpile replacement since the isotope naturally decays.
In May 1995, NPT parties reaffirmed their commitment to a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty to prohibit the production of any further fissile material for weapons. This aims to complement the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996 (not entered into force as of 2011) and to codify commitments made by the United States, the UK, France and Russia to cease production of weapons material, as well as putting a similar ban on China. This treaty will also put more pressure on Israel, India and Pakistan to agree to international verification.
On 9 August 2005, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Khamenei’s official statement was made at the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. As of February 2006Iran formally announced that uranium enrichment within their borders has continued. Iran claims it is for peaceful purposes but the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States claim the purpose is for nuclear weapons research and construction.
§Unsanctioned nuclear activity
§NPT Non Signatories
India, Pakistan and Israel have been “threshold” countries in terms of the international non-proliferation regime. They possess or are quickly capable of assembling one or more nuclear weapons. They have remained outside the 1970 NPT. They are thus largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, except for safety-related devices for a few safeguarded facilities.
In May 1998 India and Pakistan each exploded several nuclear devices underground. This heightened concerns regarding an arms race between them, with Pakistan involving the People’s Republic of China, an acknowledged nuclear weapons state. Both countries are opposed to the NPT as it stands, and India has consistently attacked the Treaty since its inception in 1970 labeling it as a lopsided treaty in favor of the nuclear powers.
Relations between the two countries are tense and hostile, and the risks of nuclear conflict between them have long been considered quite high. Kashmir is a prime cause of bilateral tension, its sovereignty being in dispute since 1948. There is persistent low level military conflict due to Pakistan backing an insurgency there and the disputed status of Kashmir.
Both engaged in a conventional arms race in the 1980s, including sophisticated technology and equipment capable of delivering nuclear weapons. In the 1990s the arms race quickened. In 1994 India reversed a four-year trend of reduced allocations for defence, and despite its much smaller economy, Pakistan was expected to push its own expenditures yet higher. Both have lost their patrons: India, the former USSR, and Pakistan, the United States.
But it is the growth and modernization of China’s nuclear arsenal and its assistance with Pakistan’s nuclear power programme and, reportedly, with missile technology, which exacerbate Indian concerns. In particular, Pakistan is aided by China’s People’s Liberation Army, which operates somewhat autonomously within that country as an exporter of military material.
Nuclear power for civil use is well established in India. Its civil nuclear strategy has been directed towards complete independence in the nuclear fuel cycle, necessary because of its outspoken rejection of the NPT. This self-sufficiency extends from uranium exploration and mining through fuel fabrication, heavy water production, reactor design and construction, to reprocessing and waste management. It has a small fast breeder reactor and is planning a much larger one. It is also developing technology to utilise its abundant resources of thorium as a nuclear fuel.
India has 14 small nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, two larger ones under construction, and ten more planned. The 14 operating ones (2548 MWe total) comprise:
- two 150 MWe BWRs from the United States, which started up in 1969, now use locally enriched uranium and are under safeguards,
- two small Canadian PHWRs (1972 & 1980), also under safeguards, and
- ten local PHWRs based on Canadian designs, two of 150 and eight 200 MWe.
- two new 540 MWe and two 700 MWe plants at Tarapur (known as TAPP: Tarapur Atomic Power Project)
The two under construction and two of the planned ones are 450 MWe versions of these 200 MWe domestic products. Construction has been seriously delayed by financial and technical problems. In 2001 a final agreement was signed with Russia for the country’s first large nuclear power plant, comprising two VVER-1000 reactors, under a Russian-financed US$3 billion contract. The first unit is due to be commissioned in 2007. A further two Russian units are under consideration for the site.
Nuclear power supplied 3.1% of India’s electricity in 2000 and this was expected to reach 10% by 2005. Its industry is largely without IAEA safeguards, though a few plants (see above) are under facility-specific safeguards. As a result India’s nuclear power programme proceeds largely without fuel or technological assistance from other countries.
Its weapons material appears to come from a Canadian-designed 40MW “research” reactor which started up in 1960, well before the NPT, and a 100MW indigenous unit in operation since 1985. Both use local uranium, as India does not import any nuclear fuel. It is estimated that India may have built up enough weapons-grade plutonium for a hundred nuclear warheads.
It is widely believed that the nuclear programs of India and Pakistan used CANDU reactors to produce fissionable materials for their weapons; however, this is not accurate. Both Canada (by supplying the 40 MW research reactor) and the United States (by supplying 21 tons of heavy water) supplied India with the technology necessary to create a nuclear weapons program, dubbed CIRUS (Canada-India Reactor, United States). Canada sold India the reactor on the condition that the reactor and any by-products would be“employed for peaceful purposes only.”. Similarly, the United States sold India heavy water for use in the reactor “only… in connection with research into and the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes”. India, in violation of these agreements, used the Canadian-supplied reactor and American-supplied heavy water to produce plutonium for their first nuclear explosion, Smiling Buddha. The Indian government controversially justified this, however, by claiming that Smiling Buddha was a “peaceful nuclear explosion.”
The country has at least three other research reactors including the tiny one which is exploring the use of thorium as a nuclear fuel, by breeding fissile U-233. In addition, an advanced heavy-water thorium cycle is under development.
India exploded a nuclear device in 1974, the so-called Smiling Buddha test, which it has consistently claimed was for peaceful purposes. Others saw it as a response to China’s nuclear weapons capability. It was then universally perceived, notwithstanding official denials, to possess, or to be able to quickly assemble, nuclear weapons. In 1999 it deployed its own medium-range missile and has developed an intermediate-range missile capable of reaching targets in China’s industrial heartland.
In 1995 the United States quietly intervened to head off a proposed nuclear test. However, in 1998 there were five more tests in Operation Shakti. These were unambiguously military, including one claimed to be of a sophisticated thermonuclear device, and their declared purpose was “to help in the design of nuclear weapons of different yields and different delivery systems”.
Indian security policies are driven by:
- its determination to be recognized as a dominant power in the region
- its increasing concern with China’s expanding nuclear weapons and missile delivery programmes
- its concern with Pakistan’s capability to deliver nuclear weapons deep into India
It perceives nuclear weapons as a cost-effective political counter to China’s nuclear and conventional weaponry, and the effects of its nuclear weapons policy in provoking Pakistan is, by some accounts, considered incidental. India has had an unhappy relationship with China. After an uneasy ceasefire ended the 1962 war, relations between the two nations were frozen until 1998. Since then a degree of high-level contact has been established and a few elementary confidence-building measures put in place. China still occupies some territory which it captured during the aforementioned war, claimed by India, and India still occupies some territory claimed by China. Its nuclear weapon and missile support for Pakistan is a major bone of contention.
American President George W. Bush met with India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss India’s involvement with nuclear weapons. The two countries agreed that the United States would give nuclear power assistance to India.
In 2003, Libya admitted that the nuclear weapons-related material including these centrifuges, known asPak-1, were acquired from Pakistan
Over the several years, the Nuclear power infrastructure has been well established by Pakistan which is dedicated for the industrial and economic development of the country. Its current nuclear policy is directed and aimed to promote the socio-economic development of the people as a “foremost priority”; and to fulfill the energy, economic, and industrial needs from the nuclear sources. Currently, there are three operational mega-commercial nuclear power plants while three larger ones are under construction. The nuclear power supplies 787MW (roughly ~3.6%) of electricity as of 2012, and the country has projected to produce 8800MW electricity by 2030. Infrastructure established by the IAEA and the U.S. in the 1950s–1960s were based on peaceful research and development and economic prosperity of the country.
Although the civil-sector nuclear power was established in the 1950s, the country has an active nuclear weapons program which was started in the 1970s. The bomb program has its roots after East-Pakistan gained itsindependence as Bangladesh after India‘s successful intervention led to a decisive victory on Pakistan in 1971. This large-scale but clandestine atomic bomb project was directed towards the development of ingenious development of reactor and military-grade plutonium. In 1974, when India surprised the outer world with its successful detonation of its own bomb, codename Smiling Buddha, it became “imperative for Pakistan” to pursue the weapons research. According to leading scientist in the program, it became clear once India detonated the bomb, “Newton’s third law” came into “operation”, from then on it was a classic case of “action and reaction“. Earlier efforts were directed towards mastering the plutonium technology from France, but plutonium route was partially slowed down when the plan was failed after the U.S. intervention to cancel the project. Contrary to popular perception, Pakistan did not forego the “plutonium” route and covertly continued its indegenious research under Munir Khan and it succeeded with plutonium route in the early 1980s. Reacting on India’s nuclear test (Smiling Buddha), Bhutto and the country’s elite political and military science circle sensed this test as final and dangerous anticipation to Pakistan’s “moral and physical existence.” With Aziz Ahmed on his side, Bhutto launched a serious diplomatic offense and aggressively maintained at the session of the United Nations Security Council:
Pakistan was exposed to a kind of “nuclear threat and blackmail” unparalleled elsewhere….. (…)… If the world’s community failed to provide political insurance to Pakistan and other countries against the nuclear blackmail, these countries would be constraint to launch atomic bomb programs of their own!… [A]ssurances provided by the United Nations were not “Enough!”…
—Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, statement written in “Eating Grass“
After 1974, Bhutto’s government redoubled its effort, this time equally focused on uranium and plutonium. Pakistan had established science directorates in almost all of her embassies in the important countries of the world, with theoretical physicist S.A. Butt being the director. Abdul Qadeer Khan then established a network through Dubai to smuggle URENCO technology to Engineering Research Laboratories. Earlier, he worked with Physics Dynamics Research Laboratories (FDO), a subsidiary of the Dutch firm VMF-Stork based in Amsterdam. Later after joining, the Urenco, he had access through photographs and documents of the technology. Against the popular perception, the technology that A.Q. Khan had brought from Urenco was based on first generation civil rector technology, filled with many serious technical errors, though it was authentic and vital link for centrifuge project of the country. After the British Government stopped the British subsidiary of the American Emerson Electric Co. from shipping the components to Pakistan, he describes his frustration with a supplier from Germany as: “That man from the German team was unethical. When he did not get the order from us, he wrote a letter to a Labour Party member and questions were asked in[British] Parliament.” By 1978, his efforts were paid off and made him into a national hero. In 1981, as a tribute, President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, renamed the research institute after his name.
In early 1996, Prime minister Benazir Bhutto made it clear that “if India conducts a nuclear test, Pakistan could be forced to “follow suit”. In 1997, her statement was echoed by Prime minister Nawaz Sharif who maintained to the fact that: “Since 1972, [P]akistan had progressed significantly, and we have left that stage (developmental) far behind. Pakistan will not be made a “hostage” to India by signing the CTBT, before (India).!” In May 1998, within weeks of India’s nuclear tests, Pakistan announced that it had conducted six underground tests in the Chagai Hills, five on the 28th and one on the 30th of that month. Seismic events consistent with these claims were recorded.
In 2004, the revelation of A.Q. Khan’s efforts led the exposure of many defunct European consortium who defied export restrictions in the 1970s, and many of defunct Dutch companies exported thousands of centrifuges to Pakistan as early as 1976. Many centrifuge components were apparently manufactured in Malaysian Scomi Precision Engineering with the assistance of South Asian and German companies, and used a UAE-based computer company as a false front.
It was widely believed to have direct involvement of the government of Pakistan. This claim could not be verified due to the refusal of the government of Pakistan to allow IAEA to interview the alleged head of the nuclear black market, who happened to be no other than A.Q. Khan. Confessing his crimes later a month on national television, he bailed out the government by taking full responsibility. Independent investigation conducted by IISS confirmed that he had control over the import-export deals, and his acquisition activities were largely unsupervised by Pakistan governmental authorities. All of his activities went undetected for several years. He duly confessed of running the atomic proliferation ring from Pakistan to Iran and North Korea. He was immediately given presidential immunity. Exact nature of the involvement at the governmental level is still unclear, but the manner in which the government acted cast doubt on the sincerity of Pakistan.
The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (or better known as North Korea), joined the NPT in 1985 and had subsequently signed a safeguards agreement with the IAEA. However, it was believed that North Korea was diverting plutonium extracted from the fuel of its reactor at Yongbyon, for use in nuclear weapons. The subsequent confrontation with IAEA on the issue of inspections and suspected violations, resulted in North Korea threatening to withdraw from the NPT in 1993. This eventually led to negotiations with theUnited States resulting in the Agreed Framework of 1994, which provided for IAEA safeguards being applied to its reactors and spent fuel rods. These spent fuel rods were sealed in canisters by the United States to prevent North Korea from extracting plutonium from them. North Korea had to therefore freeze its plutonium programme.
During this period, Pakistan-North Korea cooperation in missile technology transfer was being established. A high level delegation of Pakistan military visited North Korea in August–September 1992, reportedly to discuss the supply of missile technology to Pakistan. In 1993, PM Benazir Bhutto repeatedly traveled to China, and the paid state visit to North Korea. The visits are believed to be related to the subsequent acquisition technology to developed its Ghauri system by Pakistan. During the period 1992–1994, A.Q. Khan was reported to have visited North Korea thirteen times. The missile cooperation program with North Korea was under Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories. At this time China was under U.S. pressure not to supply the M Dongfeng series of missiles to Pakistan. It is believed by experts that possibly with Chinese connivance and facilitation, the latter was forced to approach North Korea for missile transfers. Reports indicate that North Korea was willing to supply missile sub-systems including rocket motors, inertial guidance systems, control and testing equipment for US$ 50 million.
It is not clear what North Korea got in return. Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. in Jane’s Defence Weekly (27 November 2002) reports that Western analysts had begun to question what North Korea received in payment for the missiles; many suspected it was the nuclear technology. The KRL was in charge of both uranium program and also of the missile program with North Korea. It is therefore likely during this period that cooperation in nuclear technology between Pakistan and North Korea was initiated. Western intelligence agencies began to notice exchange of personnel, technology and components between KRL and entities of the North Korean 2nd Economic Committee (responsible for weapons production).
A New York Times report on 18 October 2002 quoted U.S. intelligence officials having stated that Pakistan was a major supplier of critical equipment to North Korea. The report added that equipment such as gas centrifuges appeared to have been “part of a barter deal” in which North Korea supplied Pakistan with missiles. Separate reports indicate (The Washington Times, 22 November 2002) that U.S. intelligence had as early as 1999 picked up signs that North Korea was continuing to develop nuclear arms. Other reports also indicate that North Korea had been working covertly to develop an enrichment capability for nuclear weapons for at least five years and had used technology obtained from Pakistan (Washington Times, 18 October 2002).
Israel is also thought to possess an arsenal of potentially up to several hundred nuclear warheads based on estimates of the amount of fissile material produced by Israel. This has never been openly confirmed or denied however, due to Israel’s policy of deliberate ambiguity.
An Israeli nuclear installation is located about ten kilometers to the south of Dimona, the Negev Nuclear Research Center. Its construction commenced in 1958, with French assistance. The official reason given by the Israeli and French governments was to build a nuclear reactor to power a “desalination plant“, in order to “green the Negev”. The purpose of the Dimona plant is widely assumed to be the manufacturing of nuclear weapons, and the majority of defense experts have concluded that it does in fact do that. However, the Israeli government refuses to confirm or deny this publicly, a policy it refers to as “ambiguity”.
Norway sold 20 tonnes of heavy water needed for the reactor to Israel in 1959 and 1960 in a secret deal. There were no “safeguards” required in this deal to prevent usage of the heavy water for non-peaceful purposes. The British newspaper Daily Express accused Israel of working on a bomb in 1960. When the United States intelligence community discovered the purpose of the Dimona plant in the early 1960s, it demanded that Israel agree to international inspections. Israel agreed, but on a condition that U.S., rather than IAEA, inspectors were used, and that Israel would receive advanced notice of all inspections.
Some claim that because Israel knew the schedule of the inspectors’ visits, it was able to hide the alleged purpose of the site from the inspectors by installing temporary false walls and other devices before each inspection. The inspectors eventually informed the U.S. government that their inspections were useless due to Israeli restrictions on what areas of the facility they could inspect. In 1969, the United States terminated the inspections.
In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona plant, revealed to the media some evidence of Israel’s nuclear program. Israeli agents arrested him from Italy, drugged him and transported him to Israel, and an Israeli court then tried him in secret on charges of treason and espionage, and sentenced him to eighteen years imprisonment. He was freed on 21 April 2004, but was severely limited by the Israeli government. He was arrested again on 11 November 2004, though formal charges were not immediately filed.
Comments on photographs taken by Mordechai Vanunu inside the Negev Nuclear Research Center have been made by prominent scientists. British nuclear weapons scientist Frank Barnaby, who questioned Vanunu over several days, estimated Israel had enough plutonium for about 150 weapons. Ted Taylor, a bomb designer employed by the United States of America has confirmed the several hundred warhead estimate based on Vanunu’s photographs.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Warner D. Farr in a report to the USAF Counterproliferation Center while France was previously a leader in nuclear research “Israel and France were at a similar level of expertise after the war, and Israeli scientists could make significant contributions to the French effort.” In 1986 Francis Perrin, French high-commissioner for atomic energy from 1951 to 1970 stated that in 1949 Israeli scientists were invited to the Saclay nuclear research facility, this cooperation leading to a joint effort including sharing of knowledge between French and Israeli scientists especially those with knowledge from the Manhattan Project.
§Nuclear arms control in South Asia
The public stance of the two states on non-proliferation differs markedly. Pakistan has initiated a series of regional security proposals. It has repeatedly proposed a nuclear free zone in South Asia and has proclaimed its willingness to engage in nuclear disarmament and to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty if India would do so. It has endorsed a United States proposal for a regional five power conference to consider non-proliferation in South Asia.
India has taken the view that solutions to regional security issues should be found at the international rather than the regional level, since its chief concern is with China. It therefore rejects Pakistan’s proposals.
Instead, the ‘Gandhi Plan‘, put forward in 1988, proposed the revision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it regards as inherently discriminatory in favor of the nuclear-weapon States, and a timetable for complete nuclear weapons disarmament. It endorsed early proposals for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and for an international convention to ban the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes, known as the ‘cut-off’ convention.
The United States for some years, especially under the Clinton administration, pursued a variety of initiatives to persuade India and Pakistan to abandon their nuclear weapons programs and to accept comprehensive international safeguards on all their nuclear activities. To this end, the Clinton administration proposed a conference of the five nuclear-weapon states, Japan, Germany, India and Pakistan.
India refused this and similar previous proposals, and countered with demands that other potential weapons states, such as Iran and North Korea, should be invited, and that regional limitations would only be acceptable if they were accepted equally by China. The United States would not accept the participation of Iran and North Korea and these initiatives have lapsed.
Another, more recent approach, centers on ‘capping’ the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, which would hopefully be followed by ‘roll back’. To this end, India and the United States jointly sponsored a UN General Assembly resolution in 1993 calling for negotiations for a ‘cut-off’ convention. Should India and Pakistan join such a convention, they would have to agree to halt the production of fissile materials for weapons and to accept international verification on their relevant nuclear facilities (enrichment and reprocessing plants). It appears that India is now prepared to join negotiations regarding such a Cut-off Treaty, under the UN Conference on Disarmament.
Bilateral confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan to reduce the prospects of confrontation have been limited. In 1990 each side ratified a treaty not to attack the other’s nuclear installations, and at the end of 1991 they provided one another with a list showing the location of all their nuclear plants, even though the respective lists were regarded as not being wholly accurate. Early in 1994 India proposed a bilateral agreement for a ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons and an extension of the ‘no attack’ treaty to cover civilian and industrial targets as well as nuclear installations.
Having promoted the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty since 1954, India dropped its support in 1995 and in 1996 attempted to block the Treaty. Following the 1998 tests the question has been reopened and both Pakistan and India have indicated their intention to sign the CTBT. Indian ratification may be conditional upon the five weapons states agreeing to specific reductions in nuclear arsenals. The UN Conference on Disarmament has also called upon both countries “to accede without delay to the Non-Proliferation Treaty”, presumably as non-weapons states.
In 2004 and 2005, Egypt disclosed past undeclared nuclear activities and material to the IAEA. In 2007 and 2008, high enriched and low enriched uranium particles were found in environmental samples taken in Egypt. In 2008, the IAEA states Egypt’s statements were consistent with its own findings. In May 2009, Reuters reported that the IAEA was conducting further investigation in Egypt.
In 2003, the IAEA reported that Iran had been in breach of its obligations to comply with provisions of its safeguard agreement. In 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors voted in a rare non-consensus decision to find Iran in non-compliance with its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to report that non-compliance to the UN Security Council. In response, the UN Security Council passed a series of resolutions citing concerns about the program. Iran’s representative to the UN argues sanctions compel Iran to abandon its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to peaceful nuclear technology. Iran says its uranium enrichment program is exclusively for peaceful purposes and has enriched uranium to “less than 5 percent,” consistent with fuel for a nuclear power plant and significantly below the purity of WEU (around 90%) typically used in a weapons program. The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said in 2009 he had not seen any evidence in IAEA official documents that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)
Up to the late 1980s it was generally assumed that any undeclared nuclear activities would have to be based on the diversion of nuclear material from safeguards. States acknowledged the possibility of nuclear activities entirely separate from those covered by safeguards, but it was assumed they would be detected by national intelligence activities. There was no particular effort by IAEA to attempt to detect them.
Iraq had been making efforts to secure a nuclear potential since the 1960s. In the late 1970s a specialised plant, Osiraq, was constructed near Baghdad. The plant was attacked during the Iran–Iraq War and was destroyed by Israeli bombers in June 1981.
Not until the 1990 NPT Review Conference did some states raise the possibility of making more use of (for example) provisions for “special inspections” in existing NPT Safeguards Agreements. Special inspections can be undertaken at locations other than those where safeguards routinely apply, if there is reason to believe there may be undeclared material or activities.
After inspections in Iraq following the UN Gulf War cease-fire resolution showed the extent of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, it became clear that the IAEA would have to broaden the scope of its activities. Iraq was an NPT Party, and had thus agreed to place all its nuclear material under IAEA safeguards. But the inspections revealed that it had been pursuing an extensive clandestine uranium enrichment programme, as well as a nuclear weapons design programme.
The main thrust of Iraq’s uranium enrichment program was the development of technology for electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) of indigenous uranium. This uses the same principles as a mass spectrometer (albeit on a much larger scale). Ions of uranium-238 and uranium-235 are separated because they describe arcs of different radii when they move through a magnetic field. This process was used in the Manhattan Project to make the highly enriched uranium used in the Hiroshima bomb, but was abandoned soon afterwards.
The Iraqis did the basic research work at their nuclear research establishment at Tuwaitha, near Baghdad, and were building two full-scale facilities at Tarmiya and Ash Sharqat, north of Baghdad. However, when the war broke out, only a few separators had been installed at Tarmiya, and none at Ash Sharqat.
The Iraqis were also very interested in centrifuge enrichment, and had been able to acquire some components including some carbon-fibre rotors, which they were at an early stage of testing. In May 1998, Newsweek reported that Abdul Qadeer Khan had sent Iraq centrifuge designs, which were apparently confiscated by the UNMOVIC officials. Iraqi officials said “the documents were authentic but that they had not agreed to work with A. Q. Khan, fearing an ISI sting operation, due to strained relations between two countries. The Government of Pakistan and A. Q. Khan strongly denied this allegation whilst the government declared the evidence to be “fraudulent”.
They were clearly in violation of their NPT and safeguards obligations, and the IAEA Board of Governors ruled to that effect. The UN Security Council then ordered the IAEA to remove, destroy or render harmless Iraq’s nuclear weapons capability. This was done by mid-1998, but Iraq then ceased all cooperation with the UN, so the IAEA withdrew from this work.
The revelations from Iraq provided the impetus for a very far-reaching reconsideration of what safeguards are intended to achieve.
Libya possesses ballistic missiles and previously pursued nuclear weapons under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi. On 19 December 2003, Gaddafi announced that Libya would voluntarily eliminate all materials, equipment and programs that could lead to internationally proscribed weapons, including weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles. Libya signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and ratified it in 1975, and concluded a safeguards agreement with theInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1980. In March 2004, the IAEA Board of Governors welcomed Libya’s decision to eliminate its formerly undeclared nuclear program, which it found had violated Libya’s safeguards agreement, and approved Libya’s Additional Protocol. The United States and the United Kingdom assisted Libya in removing equipment and material from its nuclear weapons program, with independent verification by the IAEA.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald and Searchina, a Japanese newspaper, report that two Myanmarese defectors saying that the Myanmar junta was secretly building a nuclear reactor and plutonium extraction facility with North Korea’s help, with the aim of acquiring its first nuclear bomb in five years. According to the report, “The secret complex, much of it in caves tunnelled into a mountain at Naung Laing in northern Burma, runs parallel to a civilian reactor being built at another site by Russia that both the Russians and Burmese say will be put under international safeguards.” In 2002, Myanmar had notified IAEA of its intention to pursue a civilian nuclear programme. Later, Russia announced that it would build a nuclear reactor in Myanmar. There have also been reports that two Pakistani scientists, from the AQ Khan stable, had been dispatched to Myanmar where they had settled down, to help Myanmar’s project. Recently, the David Albright-led Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) rang alarm bells about Myanmar attempting a nuclear project with North Korean help. If true, the full weight of international pressure will be brought against Myanmar, said officials familiar with developments. But equally, the information that has been peddled by the defectors is also “preliminary” and could be used by the west to turn the screws on Myanmar—on democracy and human rights issues—in the run-up to the elections in the country in 2010. During an ASEAN meeting in Thailand in July 2009, US secretary of stateHillary Clinton highlighted concerns of the North Korean link. “We know there are also growing concerns about military cooperation between North Korea and Burma which we take very seriously,” Clinton said. However, in 2012, after contact with the American president, Barack Obama, the Burmese leader, Thein Sein, renounced military ties with DPRK (North Korea).
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) acceded to the NPT in 1985 as a condition for the supply of a nuclear power station by the USSR. However, it delayed concluding its NPT Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, a process which should take only 18 months, until April 1992.
During that period, it brought into operation a small gas-cooled, graphite-moderated, natural-uranium (metal) fuelled “Experimental Power Reactor” of about 25 MWt (5 MWe), based on the UK Magnox design. While this was a well-suited design to start a wholly indigenous nuclear reactor development, it also exhibited all the features of a small plutonium production reactor for weapons purposes. North Korea also made substantial progress in the construction of two larger reactors designed on the same principles, a prototype of about 200 MWt (50 MWe), and a full-scale version of about 800 MWt (200 MWe). They made only slow progress; construction halted on both in 1994 and has not resumed. Both reactors have degraded considerably since that time and would take significant efforts to refurbish.
In addition it completed and commissioned a reprocessing plant that makes the Magnox spent nuclear fuel safe, recovering uranium and plutonium. That plutonium, if the fuel was only irradiated to a very low burn-up, would have been in a form very suitable for weapons. Although all these facilities at Yongbyon were to be under safeguards, there was always the risk that at some stage, the DPRK would withdraw from the NPT and use the plutonium for weapons.
One of the first steps in applying NPT safeguards is for the IAEA to verify the initial stocks of uranium and plutonium to ensure that all the nuclear materials in the country have been declared for safeguards purposes. While undertaking this work in 1992, IAEA inspectors found discrepancies which indicated that the reprocessing plant had been used more often than the DPRK had declared, which suggested that the DPRK could have weapons-grade plutonium which it had not declared to the IAEA. Information passed to the IAEA by a Member State (as required by the IAEA) supported that suggestion by indicating that the DPRK had two undeclared waste or other storage sites.
In February 1993 the IAEA called on the DPRK to allow special inspections of the two sites so that the initial stocks of nuclear material could be verified. The DPRK refused, and on 12 March announced its intention to withdraw from the NPT (three months’ notice is required). In April 1993 the IAEA Board concluded that the DPRK was in non-compliance with its safeguards obligations and reported the matter to the UN Security Council. In June 1993 the DPRK announced that it had “suspended” its withdrawal from the NPT, but subsequently claimed a “special status” with respect to its safeguards obligations. This was rejected by IAEA.
Once the DPRK’s non-compliance had been reported to the UN Security Council, the essential part of the IAEA’s mission had been completed. Inspections in the DPRK continued, although inspectors were increasingly hampered in what they were permitted to do by the DPRK’s claim of a “special status”. However, some 8,000 corroding fuel rods associated with the experimental reactor have remained under close surveillance.
Following bilateral negotiations between the United States and the DPRK, and the conclusion of the Agreed Framework in October 1994, the IAEA has been given additional responsibilities. The agreement requires a freeze on the operation and construction of the DPRK’s plutonium production reactors and their related facilities, and the IAEA is responsible for monitoring the freeze until the facilities are eventually dismantled. The DPRK remains uncooperative with the IAEA verification work and has yet to comply with its safeguards agreement.
While Iraq was defeated in a war, allowing the UN the opportunity to seek out and destroy its nuclear weapons programme as part of the cease-fire conditions, the DPRK was not defeated, nor was it vulnerable to other measures, such as trade sanctions. It can scarcely afford to import anything, and sanctions on vital commodities, such as oil, would either be ineffective or risk provoking war.
Ultimately, the DPRK was persuaded to stop what appeared to be its nuclear weapons programme in exchange, under the agreed framework, for about US$5 billion in energy-related assistance. This included two 1000 MWe light water nuclear power reactors based on an advanced U.S. System-80 design.
In January 2003 the DPRK withdrew from the NPT. In response, a series of discussions among the DPRK, the United States, and China, a series of six-party talks (the parties being the DPRK, the ROK, China, Japan, the United States and Russia) were held inBeijing; the first beginning in April 2004 concerning North Korea’s weapons program.
On 10 January 2005, North Korea declared that it was in the possession of nuclear weapons. On 19 September 2005, the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks ended with a joint statement in which North Korea agreed to end its nuclear programs and return to the NPT in exchange for diplomatic, energy and economic assistance. However, by the end of 2005 the DPRK had halted all six-party talks because the United States froze certain DPRK international financial assets such as those in a bank in Macau.
On 9 October 2006, North Korea announced that it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapon test. On 18 December 2006, the six-party talks finally resumed. On 13 February 2007, the parties announced “Initial Actions” to implement the 2005 joint statement including shutdown and disablement of North Korean nuclear facilities in exchange for energy assistance. Reacting to UN sanctions imposed after missile tests in April 2009, North Korea withdrew from the six-party talks, restarted its nuclear facilities and conducted asecond nuclear test on 25 May 2009.
On 12 February 2013, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosion with an estimated yield of 6 to 7 kilotonnes. The detonation registered a magnitude 4.9 disturbance in the area around the epicenter.
See also: North Korea and weapons of mass destruction and Six-party talks
Security of nuclear weapons in Russia remains a matter of concern. According to high-ranking Russian SVR defector Tretyakov, he had a meeting with two Russian businessman representing a state-created C-W corporation in 1991. They came up with a project of destroying large quantities of chemical wastes collected from Western countries at the island of Novaya Zemlya (a test place for Soviet nuclear weapons) using an underground nuclear blast. The project was rejected by Canadian representatives, but one of the businessmen told Tretyakov that he keeps his own nuclear bomb at his dacha outside Moscow. Tretyakov thought that man was insane, but the “businessmen” (Vladimir K. Dmitriev) replied: “Do not be so naive. With economic conditions the way they are in Russia today, anyone with enough money can buy a nuclear bomb. It’s no big deal really”.
In 1991, South Africa acceded to the NPT, concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and submitted a report on its nuclear material subject to safeguards. At the time, the state had a nuclear power programme producing nearly 10% of the country’s electricity, whereas Iraq and North Korea only had research reactors.
The IAEA’s initial verification task was complicated by South Africa’s announcement that between 1979 and 1989 it built and then dismantled a number of nuclear weapons. South Africa asked the IAEA to verify the conclusion of its weapons programme. In 1995 the IAEA declared that it was satisfied all materials were accounted for and the weapons programme had been terminated and dismantled.
South Africa has signed the NPT, and now holds the distinction of being the only known state to have indigenously produced nuclear weapons, and then verifiably dismantled them.
On 6 September 2007, Israel bombed an officially unidentified site in Syria which it later asserted was a nuclear reactor under construction (see Operation Orchard). The alleged reactor was not asserted to be operational and it was not asserted that nuclear material had been introduced into it. Syria said the site was a military site and was not involved in any nuclear activities. The IAEA requested Syria to provide further access to the site and any other locations where the debris and equipment from the building had been stored. Syria denounced what it called the Western “fabrication and forging of facts” in regards to the incident. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei criticized the strikes and deplored that information regarding the matter had not been shared with his agency earlier.
§United States cooperation on nuclear weapons with the United Kingdom
The United States has given the UK considerable assistance with nuclear weapon design and construction since the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement. In 1974 a CIA proliferation assessment noted that “In many cases [the UK’s sensitive technology in nuclear and missile fields] is based on technology received from the United States and could not legitimately be passed on without U.S. permission.”
The U.S. President authorized the transfer of “nuclear weapon parts” to the UK between at least the years 1975 to 1996. The UK National Audit Office noted that most of the UK Trident warhead development and production expenditure was incurred in the United States, which would supply “certain warhead-related components”. Some of the fissile materials for the UK Trident warhead were purchased from the United States. Declassified U.S. Department of Energy documents indicate the UK Trident warhead system was involved in non-nuclear design activities alongside the U.S. W76 nuclear warhead fitted in some U.S. Navy Trident missiles, leading the Federation of American Scientists to speculate that the UK warhead may share design information from the W76.
Under the Mutual Defence Agreement 5.37 tonnes of UK-produced plutonium was sent to the United States in return for 6.7 kg of tritium and 7.5 tonnes of highly enriched uranium over the period 1960–1979. A further 0.47 tonne of plutonium was swapped between the UK and United States for reasons that remain classified. Some of the UK produced plutonium was used in 1962 by the United States for a nuclear weapon test of reactor-grade plutonium.
The United States has supplied nuclear weapon delivery systems to support the UK nuclear forces since before the signing of the NPT. The renewal of this agreement is due to take place through the second decade of the 21st century.
For a state that does not possess nuclear weapons, the capability to produce one or more weapons quickly and with little warning is called a breakout capability.
- Japan, with its civil nuclear infrastructure and experience, has a stockpile of separated plutonium that could be fabricated into weapons relatively quickly.
- Iran, according to some observers, may be seeking (or have already achieved) a breakout capability, with its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and its capability to enrich further to weapons grade.
§Arguments for and against proliferation
Main article: Nuclear peace
There has been much debate in the academic study of International Security as to the advisability of proliferation. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Gen. Pierre Marie Gallois of France, an adviser to Charles DeGaulle, argued in books like The Balance of Terror: Strategy for the Nuclear Age (1961) that mere possession of a nuclear arsenal, what the French called the force de frappe, was enough to ensure deterrence, and thus concluded that the spread of nuclear weapons could increase international stability.
Some very prominent neo-realist scholars, such as Kenneth Waltz, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley and Adjunct Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University, and John Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, continue to argue along the lines of Gallois (though these scholars rarely acknowledge their intellectual debt to Gallois and his contemporaries). Specifically, these scholars advocate some forms of nuclear proliferation, arguing that it will decrease the likelihood of war, especially in troubled regions of the world. Aside from the majority opinion which opposes proliferation in any form, there are two schools of thought on the matter: those, like Mearsheimer, who favor selective proliferation, and those such as Waltz, who advocate a laissez-faire attitude to programs like North Korea’s.
In embryo, Waltz argues that the logic of mutually assured destruction (MAD) should work in all security environments, regardless of historical tensions or recent hostility. He sees the Cold War as the ultimate proof of MAD logic – the only occasion when enmity between two Great Powers did not result in military conflict. This was, he argues, because nuclear weapons promote caution in decision-makers. Neither Washington nor Moscow would risk a nuclear apocalypse to advance territorial or power goals, hence a peaceful stalemate ensued (Waltz and Sagan (2003), p. 24). Waltz believes there to be no reason why this effect would not occur in all circumstances.
John Mearsheimer would not support Waltz’s optimism in the majority of potential instances; however, he has argued for nuclear proliferation as policy in certain places, such as post–Cold War Europe. In two famous articles, Professor Mearsheimer opines that Europe is bound to return to its pre–Cold War environment of regular conflagration and suspicion at some point in the future. He advocates arming both Germany and Ukraine with nuclear weaponry in order to achieve a balance of power between these states in the east and France/UK in the west. If this does not occur, he is certain that war will eventually break out on the European continent (Mearsheimer (1990), pp. 5–56 and (1993), pp. 50–66).
Another separate argument against Waltz’s open proliferation and in favor of Mearsheimer’s selective distribution is the possibility of nuclear terrorism. Some countries included in the aforementioned laissez-faire distribution could predispose the transfer of nuclear materials or a bomb falling into the hands of groups not affiliated with any governments. Such countries would not have the political will or ability to safeguard attempts at devices being transferred to a third party. Not being deterred by self-annihilation, terrorism groups could push forth their own nuclear agendas or be used as shadow fronts to carry out the attack plans by mentioned unstable governments.
§Arguments against both positions
There are numerous arguments presented against both selective and total proliferation, generally targeting the very neorealist assumptions (such as the primacy of military security in state agendas, the weakness of international institutions, and the long-run unimportance of economic integration and globalization to state strategy) its proponents tend to make. With respect to Mearsheimer’s specific example of Europe, many economists and neoliberals argue that the economic integration of Europe through the development of the European Union has made war in most of the European continent so disastrous economically so as to serve as an effective deterrent. Constructivists take this one step further, frequently arguing that the development of EU political institutions has led or will lead to the development of a nascent European identity, which most states on the European continent wish to partake in to some degree or another, and which makes all states within or aspiring to be within the EU regard war between them as unthinkable.
As for Waltz, the general opinion is that most states are not in a position to safely guard against nuclear use, that he underestimates the long-standing antipathy in many regions, and that weak states will be unable to prevent – or will actively provide for – the disastrous possibility of nuclear terrorism. Waltz has dealt with all of these objections at some point in his work; though to many, he has not adequately responded (Betts (2000)).
The Learning Channel documentary Doomsday: “On The Brink” illustrated 40 years of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons accidents. Even the 1995 Norwegian rocket incident demonstrated a potential scenario in which Russian democratization and military downsizing at the end of the Cold War did not eliminate the danger of accidental nuclear war through command and control errors. After asking: might a future Russian ruler or renegade Russian general be tempted to use nuclear weapons to make foreign policy? the documentary writers revealed a greater danger of Russian security over its nuclear stocks, but especially the ultimate danger of human nature to want the ultimate weapon of mass destruction to exercise political and military power. Future world leaders might not understand how close the Soviets, Russians, and Americans were to doomsday, how easy it all seemed because apocalypse was avoided for a mere 40 years between rivals, politicians not terrorists, who loved their children and did not want to die, against 30,000 years of human prehistory. History and military experts agree that proliferation can be slowed, but never stopped (technology cannot be uninvented).
§Proliferation begets proliferation
Proliferation begets proliferation is a concept described by Scott Sagan in his article, “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons?”. This concept can be described as a strategic chain reaction. If one state produces a nuclear weapon it creates almost a domino effectwithin the region. States in the region will seek to acquire nuclear weapons to balance or eliminate the security threat. Sagan describes this reaction best in his article when he states, “Every time one state develops nuclear weapons to balance against its main rival, it also creates a nuclear threat to another region, which then has to initiate its own nuclear weapons program to maintain its national security” (Sagan, pg. 70). Going back through history we can see how this has taken place. When the United States demonstrated that it had nuclear power capabilities after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Russians started to develop their program in preparation for the Cold War. With the Russian military buildup, France and the United Kingdom perceived this as a security threat and therefore they pursued nuclear weapons (Sagan, pg 71).
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a frequent critic of the concept of nuclear apartheid as it has been put into practice by several countries, particularly the United States. In an interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour, Ahmadinejad said that Iranwas “against ‘nuclear apartheid,’ which means some have the right to possess it, use the fuel, and then sell it to another country for 10 times its value. We’re against that. We say clean energy is the right of all countries. But also it is the duty and the responsibility of all countries, including ours, to set up frameworks to stop the proliferation of it.” Hours after that interview, he spoke passionately in favor of Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology, claiming the nation should have the same liberties.
Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and claims that any work done in regards to nuclear technology is related only to civilian uses, which is acceptable under the treaty. Iran violated the treaty by performing uranium-enrichment in secret, after which the United Nations Security Council ordered Iran to stop all uranium-enrichment.
India has also been discussed in the context of nuclear apartheid. India has consistently attempted to pass measures that would call for full international disarmament, however they have not succeeded due to protests from those states that already have nuclear weapons. In light of this, India viewed nuclear weapons as a necessary right for all nations as long as certain states were still in possession of nuclear weapons. India stated that nuclear issues were directly related to national security.
Years before India’s first underground nuclear test in 1998, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was passed. Some have argued that coercive language was used in an attempt to persuade India to sign the treaty, which was pushed for heavily by neighboring China. India viewed the treaty as a means for countries that already had nuclear weapons, primarily the five nations of the United Nations Security Council, to keep their weapons while ensuring that no other nations could develop them.
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The Nazi Collaborators: The Grand Mufti
In this film, history evidence is shown, showing the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem [Haj Amin al-Husseini] working alongside Adolf Hitler in World War 2.
The Turban and the Swastika, Amin Al-Husseini and the nazis
Haj Amin al-Husseini
Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini (Arabic: محمد أمين الحسيني; c. 1897; – 4 July 1974) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in Mandatory Palestine.
Al-Husseini was the scion of a family of Jerusalemite notables. After receiving an education in Islamic, Ottoman and Catholic schools, he went on to serve in the Ottoman army in World War I. At war’s end, he positioned himself in Damascus as a supporter of the Arab Kingdom of Syria. Following the fiasco of the Franco-Syrian War and the collapse of the Arab Hashemite rule in Damascus, his early position on pan-Arabism shifted to a form of local nationalism for Palestinian Arabs and he moved back to Jerusalem. From as early as 1920, in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab state he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of a violent riot that broke out over the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Al-Husseini was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, but was pardoned by the British. Starting in 1921, al-Husseini was appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, using the position to promote Islam, while rallying a non-confessional Arab nationalism against Zionism.
His opposition to the British peaked during the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. In 1937, evading an arrest warrant, he fled Palestine and took refuge in, successively, the French Mandate of Lebanon and the Kingdom of Iraq, until he established himself in Italy and Germany. During World War II he collaborated with both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy by making propagandistic radio broadcasts and by helping the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS. On meeting Adolf Hitler he requested backing for Arab independence and support in opposing the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home. At war’s end, he came under French protection, and then sought refuge in Cairo to avoid prosecution.
In the lead-up to the 1948 Palestine war, Husseini opposed both the 1947 UN Partition Plan and King Abdullah‘s designs to annex the Arab part of British Mandatory Palestine to Jordan, and, failing to gain command of the ‘Arab rescue army’ (jaysh al-inqadh al-‘arabi) formed under the aegis of the Arab League, formed his own militia, al-jihad al-muqaddas. In September 1948, he participated in establishment of All-Palestine Government. Seated in Egyptian-ruled Gaza, this government won a limited recognition of Arab states, but was eventually dissolved by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1959. After the war and subsequent Palestinian exodus, his claims to leadership, wholly discredited, left him eventually sidelined by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and he lost most of his residual political influence. He died in Beirut, Lebanon, in July 1974. Husseini was and remains a highly controversial figure. Historians dispute whether his fierce opposition to Zionism was grounded in nationalism or antisemitism or a combination of both.
Amin al-Husseini was born around 1897 in Jerusalem, the son of the mufti of that city and prominent early opponent of Zionism, Tahir al-Husayni. The al-Husseini clan consisted of wealthy landowners in southern Palestine, centred around the district ofJerusalem. Thirteen members of the clan had been Mayors of Jerusalem between 1864 and 1920. Another member of the clan and Amin’s half-brother, Kamil al-Husayni, also served as Mufti of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini attended a Qur’an school (kuttub), and Ottoman government secondary school (rüshidiyye) where he learnt Turkish, and a Catholic secondary school run by French missionaries, the Catholic Frères, where he learnt French. He also studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle with its non-Zionist Jewish director Albert Antébi. In 1912 he studied Islamic law briefly at Al-Azhar University in Cairo and at the Dar al-Da’wa wa-l-Irshad, under Rashid Rida, a salafi intellectual, who was to remain Amin’s mentor till his death in 1935. Though groomed to hold religious office from youth, his education was typical of the Ottoman effendi at the time, and he only donned a religious turban in 1921 after being appointed mufti.
In 1913, approximately at the age of 16, al-Husseini accompanied his mother Zainab to Mecca and received the honorary title of Hajj. Prior to World War I, he studied at the School of Administration in Istanbul, the most secular of Ottoman institutions.
World War I
With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, al-Husseini received a commission in the Ottoman Army as an artillery officer and was assigned to the Forty-Seventh Brigade stationed in and around the city of Izmir. In November 1916 he obtained a three-month disability leave from the army and returned to Jerusalem. He was recovering from an illness there when the city was captured by the British a year later. The British and Sherifian armies, for which some 500 Palestinian Arabs were estimated to have volunteered, completed their conquest of Ottoman-controlled Palestine and Syria in 1918. As a Sherifian officer, al-Husseini recruited men to serve in Faisal bin Al Hussein bin Ali El-Hashemi‘s army during the Arab Revolt, a task he undertook while employed as a recruiter by the British military administration in Jerusalem and Damascus. The post-war Palin Report noted that the English recruiting officer, Captain C. D. Brunton, found al-Husseini, with whom he cooperated, very pro-British, and that, via the diffusion of War Office pamphlets dropped from the air promising them peace and prosperity under British rule, ‘the recruits (were) being given to understand that they were fighting in a national cause and to liberate their country from the Turks’. Nothing in his early career to this point suggests he had ambitions to serve in a religious office: his interests were those of an Arab nationalist.
Early political activism
In 1919, al-Husseini attended the Pan-Syrian Congress held in Damascus where he supported Emir Faisal for King of Syria. That year al-Husseini founded the pro-British Jerusalem branch of the Syrian-based ‘Arab Club’ (Al-Nadi al-arabi), which then vied with the Nashashibi-sponsored ‘Literary Club’ (al-Muntada al-Adabi) for influence over public opinion, and he soon became its President. At the same time, he wrote articles for theSuriyya al-Janubiyya (Southern Syria). The paper was published in Jerusalem beginning in September 1919 by the lawyer Muhammad Hassan al-Budayri, and edited by Aref al-Aref, both prominent members of al-Nadi al-‘Arabi.
Al-Husseini was a strong supporter of the short-living Arab Kingdom of Syria, established in March 1920. In addition to his support to pan-Arabist policies of King Faisal I, al-Husseini tried to destabilize the British rule in Palestine, which was declared to be part of the Arab Kingdom, even though no authority was exercised in reality.
During the annual Nabi Musa procession in Jerusalem in April 1920, violent rioting broke out in protest at the implementation of the Balfour Declaration which supported the establishment in Palestine of a homeland for the Jewish people. Much damage to Jewish life and property was caused. The Palin Report laid the blame for the explosion of tensions on both sides. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, organiser of Jewish paramilitary defences, received a 15-year sentence. Al-Husseini, then a teacher at the Rashidiya school, near Herod’s Gate in East Jerusalem, was charged with inciting the Arab crowds with an inflammatory speech and sentenced in absentia to 10-years imprisonment by a military court, since by then he had fled to Syria. It was asserted soon after, by Chaim Weizmann and British army Lieutenant Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, that al-Husseini had been put up to inciting the riot by British Field-marshal Allenby‘s Chief of Staff, Colonel Bertie Harry Waters-Taylor, to demonstrate to the world that Arabs would not tolerate a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The assertion was never proven, and Meinertzhagen was dismissed.
After the April riots an event took place that turned the traditional rivalry between the Husseini and Nashashibi clans into a serious rift, with long-term consequences for al-Husseini and Palestinian nationalism. According to Sir Louis Bols, great pressure was brought to bear on the military administration from Zionist leaders and officials such as David Yellin, to have the Mayor of Jerusalem, Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husayni, dismissed, given his presence in the demonstration of the previous March. Colonel Storrs, the Military Governor of Jerusalem, removed him without further inquiry, replacing him with Raghib al-Nashashibi of the rival Nashashibi clan. This, according to the Palin report, ‘had a profound effect on his co-religionists, definitely confirming the conviction they had already formed from other evidence that the Civil Administration was the mere puppet of the Zionist Organization.’
Until late 1920, al-Husseini focused his efforts on Pan-Arabism and the ideology of the Greater Syria in particular, with Palestine understood as a southern province of an Arab state, whose capital was to be established in Damascus. Greater Syria was to include territory of the entire Levant, now occupied by Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestinian Authority and Israel. The struggle for Greater Syria collapsed after France defeated the Arab forces in Battle of Maysalun in July 1920. The French army entered Damascus at that time, overthrew King Faisal and put an end to the project of a Greater Syria, put under the French Mandate in accordance with the prior Sykes-Picot Agreement. Palestinian notables responded to the disaster by a series of resolutions at the 1921 Haifa conference, which set down a Palestinian framework and passed over in silence the earlier idea of a south confederated with Syria. This framework set the tone of Palestinian nationalism for the ensuing decades.
Al-Husseini, like many of his class and period, then turned from Damascus-oriented Pan-Arabism to a specifically Palestinian ideology, centered on Jerusalem, which sought to block Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine. The frustration of pan-Arab aspirations lent an Islamic colour to the struggle for independence, and increasing resort to the idea of restoring the land to Dar al-Islam. From his election as Mufti until 1923, al-Husseini exercised total control over the secret society, Al-Fida’iyya (The Self-Sacrificers), which, together with al-Ikha’ wal-‘Afaf (Brotherhood and Purity), played an important role in clandestine anti-British and anti-Zionist activities, and, via members in the gendarmerie, had engaged in riotous activities as early as April 1920.
Mufti of Jerusalem
Following the death of Amin’s half-brother, the mufti Kamil al-Husayni in March 1921, the British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel pardoned al-Husseini. He and another Arab had been excluded from the generalamnesty, six weeks earlier, because they had fled before their convictions had been passed down. Elections were then held, and of the four candidates running for the office of Mufti, al-Husseini received the least number of votes, the first three being Nashashibi candidates. Nevertheless, Samuel was anxious to keep a balance between the al-Husseinis and their rival clan the Nashashibis. A year earlier the British had replaced Musa al-Husayni as Mayor of Jerusalem with Ragheb al-Nashashibi. They then moved to secure for the Husseini clan a compensatory function of prestige by appointing one of them to the position of mufti, and, with the support of Ragheb al-Nashashibi and Sheikh Hussam Jārallāh, prevailing upon the Nashashibi front-runner, Sheikh Hussam ad-Din Jarallah, to withdraw. This automatically promoted Amin al-Husseini to third position, which, under Ottoman law, allowed him to qualify, and Samuel then chose him as Mufti. His initial appointment was as Mufti, but when the Supreme Muslim Council was created in the following year, Husseini demanded and received the title Grand Mufti that had earlier been created, perhaps on the lines of Egyptian usage, by the British for his half-brother Kamil. The position came with a life tenure.
In 1922, al-Husseini was elected President of the Supreme Muslim Council which had been created by Samuel in 1921. Matthews argues that the British considered the combinations of his profile as an effective Arab nationalist and a scion of a noble Jerusalem family ‘made it advantageous to align his interests with those of the British administration and thereby keep him on a short tether.’. The Council controlled the Waqf funds, worth annually tens of thousands of pounds and the orphan funds, worth annually about £50,000, as compared to the £600,000 in the Jewish Agency‘s annual budget. In addition, he controlled the Islamic courts in Palestine. Among other functions, these courts were entrusted with the power to appoint teachers and preachers.
The British initially balanced appointments to the Supreme Muslim Council between the Husseinis and their supporters (known as the majlisiya, or council supporters) and the Nashashibis and their allied clans (known as the mu’aridun, the opposition). Themu’aridun, were more disposed to a compromise with the Jews, and indeed had for some years received annual subventions from the Jewish Agency. During most of the period of the British mandate, bickering between these two families seriously undermined any Palestinian Arab unity. In 1936, however, they achieved a measure of concerted policy when all the Palestinian Arab groups joined to create a permanent executive organ known as the Arab Higher Committee under al-Husseini’s chairmanship.
Haram ash-Sharif and the Western Wall
The Supreme Muslim Council and its head al-Husseini, who regarded himself as guardian of one of the three holy sites of Islam, launched an international campaign in Muslim countries to gather funds to restore and improve the Haram ash-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) or Temple Mount, and particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the shrine Dome of the Rock (which houses the holiest site in Judaism). The whole area required extensive restoration, given the disrepair into which it had fallen from neglect in Ottoman times. Jerusalem was the original direction towards which Muslims prayed, until the Qibla was reorientated towards Mecca by Mohammed in the year 624. Al-Husseini commissioned the Turkish architect Mimar Kemalettin. In restoring the site, al-Husseini was also assisted by the Mandatory power’s Catholic Director of Antiquities, Ernest Richmond. Under Richmond’s supervision, the Turkish architect drew up a plan, and the execution of the works gave a notable stimulus to the revival of traditional artisan arts like mosaic tesselation, glassware production, woodcraft, wickerwork and iron-mongering.
Al-Husseini’s vigorous efforts to transform the Haram into a symbol of pan-Arabic and Palestinian nationalism were intended to rally Arab support against the postwar influx of Jewish immigrants. In his campaigning, al-Husseini often accused Jews of planning to take possession of the Western Wall of Jerusalem, which belonged to the waqf of Abu Madyan as an inalienable property, and rebuild the Temple over the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He took certain statements, for example, by the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine, Abraham Isaac Kook regarding the eventual return in time of the Temple Mount back to Jewish hands, and turned them to a concrete political plot to seize control of the area. Al-Husseini’s intensive work to refurbish the shrine as a cynosure for the Muslim world, and Jewish endeavours to improve their access to, and establish a ritually appropriate ambiance on the plaza by the Western Wall, led to increased conflict between the two communities, each seeing the site only from their own traditional perspective and interests.Zionist narratives pinpointed al-Husseini’s works on, and publicity about, the site and threats to it, as attempts to restore his own family’s waning prestige. Arab narratives read the heightened agitation of certain Jewish groups over the Wall as an attempt to revivediaspora interest in Zionism after some years of relative decline, depression and emigration. Each attempt to make minor alterations to the status quo, still governed by Ottoman law, was bitterly protested before the British authorities by the Muslim authorities. If Muslims could cite an Ottoman regulation of 1912 specifically forbidding objects like seating to be introduced, the Jews could cite testimonies to the fact that before 1914 certain exceptions had been made to improve their access and use of the Wall. The decade witnessed several such episodes of strong friction, and the simmering tensions came to a head in late 1928, only to erupt, after a brief respite, into an explosion of violence a year later.
1929 Palestine Riots
Arab protest delegations against British policy in Palestine during 1929
On 10 August 1928, a constituent assembly convened by the French in Syria was rapidly adjourned when calls were made for a reunification with Palestine. Al-Husseini and Awni Abd al-Hadi met with the Syrian nationalists and they made a joint proclamation for a unified monarchical state under a son of Ibn Sa’ud. On the 26th. the completion of the first stage of restoration work on the Haram’s mosques was celebrated with great pomp, in the presence of representatives from the Muslim countries which had financed the project, the Mandatory authorities, and Abdullah, Emir of Transjordan. A month later, after an article appeared in the Jewish press proposing the purchase and destruction of houses in the Moroccan quarter bordering on the wall to improve pilgrim access and further thereby the ‘Redemption of Israel.’ Soon after, on 23 September, Yom Kippur, a Jewish beadle introduced a screen to separate male and female worshippers at the Wall. Informed by residents in the neighbouring Mughrabi quarter, the waqf authority complained to Harry Luke, acting Chief Secretary to the Government of Palestine, that this virtually changed the lane into a synagogue, and violated the status quo, as had the collapsible seats in 1926. British constables, encountering a refusal, used force to remove the screen, and a jostling clash ensued between worshippers and police.
Zionist allegations that disproportionate force had been employed during what was a solemn occasion of prayer created an outcry throughout the diaspora. Worldwide Jewish protests remonstrated with Britain for the violence exercised at the Wall. The Jewish National Council Vaad Leumi ‘demanded that British administration expropriate the wall for the Jews’. In reply, the Muslims organized a Defence Committee for the Protection of the Noble Buraq, and huge crowd rallies took place on the Al-Aqsa plaza in protest. Work, often noisy, was immediately undertaken on a mosque above the Jewish prayer site. Disturbances such as opening a passage for donkeys to pass through the area, angered worshippers. After intense negotiations, the Zionist organisation denied any intent to take over the whole Haram Ash-Sharif, but demanded the government expropriate and raze the Moroccan quarter. A law of 1924 allowed the British authorities to expropriate property, and fear of this in turn greatly agitated the Muslim community, though the laws of donation of the waqf explicitly disallowed any such alienation. After lengthy deliberation, a White Paper was made public on 11 December 1928 in favour of the status quo.
After the nomination of the new High Commissioner Sir John Chancellor to succeed Lord Plumer in December 1928, the question was re-examined, and in February 1929 legal opinion established that the mandatory authority was within its powers to intervene to ensure Jewish rights of access and prayer. Al-Husseini pressed him for a specific clarification of the legal status quo regarding the Wall. Chancellor mulled weakening the SMC and undermining al-Husseini’s authority by making the office of mufti elective. The Nabi Musa festival of April that year passed without incident, despite al-Husseini’s warnings of possible incidents. Chancellor thought his power was waning, and after conferring with London, admitted to al-Husseini on 6 May that he was impotent to act decisively in the matter. Al-Husseini replied that, unless the Mandatory authorities acted, then, very much like Christian monks protecting their sacred sites in Jerusalem, the sheikhs would have to take infringements of the status quo into their own hands, and personally remove any objects introduced by Jews to the area. Chancellor asked him to be patient, and al-Husseini offered to stop works on the Mount on condition that this gesture not be taken as a recognition of Jewish rights. A change of government in Britain in June led to a new proposal: only Muslim works in the sector near where Jews prayed should be subject to mandatory authorisation: Jews could employ ritual objects, but the introduction of seats and screens would be subject to Muslim authorisation. Chancellor authorised the Muslims to recommence their reconstructive work, while, responding to further Zionist complaints, prevailed on the SMC to stop the raucous Zikr ceremonies in the vicinity of the wall. He also asked the Zionist representatives to refrain from filling their newspapers with attacks on the government and Muslim authorities. Chancellor then departed for Europe where the Mandatory Commission was deliberating.
With Chancellor abroad, and the Zionist Commission itself, with its leader Colonel Frederick Kisch, in Zurich for the 16th. Zionist Congress (attended also by Ze’ev Jabotinsky), the SMC resumed works, confidentially authorised, on the Haram only to be met with outcries from the Jewish press. The administration rapidly published the new rules on 22 July, with a serious error in translation that fueled Zionist reports of a plot against Jewish rights. A protest in London led to a public declaration by a member of the Zionist Commission that Jewish rights were bigger than the status quo, a statement which encouraged in turn Arab suspicions that local agreements were again being overthrown by Jewish intrigues abroad. News that the Zurich Congress, in creating the Jewish Agency on 11 August., had brought unity among Zionists and the world Jewish community, a measure that would greatly increase Jewish investment in British Palestine, set off alarm bells. On 15 August, Tisha B’Av, a day memorializing the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the revisionist Betar movement, despite Pinhas Rutenberg‘s plea on 8 August to the acting High Commissioner Harry Luke to stop such groups from participating, rallied members from Tel Aviv to join them in the religious commemoration. Kisch, before leaving, had banned Jewish demonstrations in Jerusalem’s Arab quarters. The Betar youth gave the ceremony a strong nationalist tinge by singing the Hatikvah, waving the flag of Israel, and chanting the slogan ‘The Wall is Ours’. The following day coincided with mawlid (or mawsin al-nabi), the anniversary of the birth of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Muslim worshippers, after prayers on the esplanade of the Haram, passed through the narrow lane by the Wailing Wall and ripped up prayer books, and kotel notes (wall petitions), without harming however three Jews present. Contacted by Luke, al-Husseini undertook to do his best to maintain calm on the Haram, but could not stop demonstrators from gathering at the Wall.
On 17 August a young Jewish boy was stabbed to death by Arabs while retrieving a football, while an Arab was badly wounded in a brawl with Palestinian Jews. Strongly tied to the anti-Hashemite party, and attacked by supporters of Abdullah in Transjordan for misusing funds marked out for campaigning against France, al-Husseini asked for a visa for himself and Awni Abd al-Hadi to travel to Syria, where the leadership of the Syrian anti-French cause was being contested. Averse to his presence in Syria, the French asked him to put off the journey. Meanwhile, despite Harry Luke’s lecturing journalists to avoid reporting such material, rumors circulated in both communities, of an imminent massacre of Jews by Muslims, and of an assault on the Haram ash-Sharif by Jews. On 21 August a funeral cortège, taking the form of a public demonstration for the dead Jewish boy, wound its way through the old city, with the police blocking attempts to break into the Arab quarters. On the 22nd, Luke convoked representatives of both parties to calm things down, and undersign a joint declaration. Awni Abd al-Hadi and Jamal al-Husayni were ready to recognize Jewish visiting rights at the Wall in exchange for Jewish recognition of Islamic prerogatives at the Buraq. The Jewish representative, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, considered this beyond his brief—which was limited to an appeal for calm—and the Arabs in turn refused. They agreed to pursue their dialogue the following week.
On 23 August, a Friday, two or three Arabs were murdered in the Jewish quarter of Mea Shearim. It was also a day of Muslim prayer. A large crowd, composed of many people from outlying villages, thronged into Jerusalem, many armed with sticks and knives. It is not known whether this was organized by al-Husseini or the result of spontaneous mobilisation. The sermon at Al-Aqsa was to be delivered by another preacher, but Luke prevailed on al-Husseini to leave his home and go to the mosque, where he was greeted as ‘the sword of the faith’ and where he instructed the preacher to deliver a pacific sermon, while sending an urgent message for police reinforcements around the Haram. Deluded by the lenitive address, extremists harangued the crowd, accusing al-Husseini of being an infidel to the Muslim cause. The same violent accusation was launched in Jaffa against sheikh Muzaffir, an otherwise radical Islamic preacher, who gave a sermon calling for calm on the same day. An assault was launched on the Jewish quarter. Violent mob attacks on Jewish communities, fueled by wildfire hearsay about ostensible massacres of Arabs and attempts to seize the Wall, took place over the following days in Hebron, Safed and Haifa. In all, in the killings and subsequent revenge attacks, 136 Arabs and 135 Jews died, while 340 of the latter were wounded, as well as an estimated 240 Arabs.
Two official investigations were subsequently conducted by the British and the League of Nations‘s Mandatory Commission. The former, The Shaw Report, concluded that the incident on 23 August consisted of an attack by Arabs on Jews, but rejected the view that the riots had been premeditated. Al-Husseini certainly played an energetic role in Muslim demonstrations from 1928 onwards, but could not be held responsible for the August riots, even if he had ‘a share in the responsibility for the disturbances’. He had nonetheless collaborated from the 23rd. of that month in pacifying rioters and reestablishing order. The worst outbreaks occurred in areas, Hebron, Safed, Jaffa, and Haifa where his Arab political adversaries were dominant. The root cause of the violent outbreaks lay in the fear of territorial dispossession. In a Note of Reservation, Mr. Harry Snell, who had apparently been swayed by Sir Herbert Samuel‘s son, Edwin Samuel states that, although he was satisfied that the Mufti was not directly responsible for the violence or had connived at it, he believed the Mufti was aware of the nature of the anti-Zionist campaign and the danger of disturbances. He therefore attributed to the Mufti a greater share of the blame than the official report had. The Dutch Vice-Chairman of the Permanent Mandates Commission, M. Van Rees, argued that ‘the disturbances of August 1929, as well as the previous disturbances of a similar character, were, in brief, only a special aspect of the resistance offered everywhere in the East, with its traditional and feudal civilisation, to the invasion of a European civilisation introduced by a Western administration’ but concluded that in his view ‘the responsibility for what had happened must lie with the religious and political leaders of the Arabs’.
Many observers saw al-Husseini as the mastermind behind the riots, accusing him of dispatching secret emissaries to inflame regional passions [citation]. In London, Lord Melchett demanded his arrest for orchestrating all anti-British unrest throughout the Middle East. Consular documentation discarded the plot thesis rapidly, and identified the deeper cause as political, not religious, namely in what the Palin report had earlier identified as profound Arab discontent over Zionism. Arab memoirs on the fitna (troubles) follow a contemporary proclamation for the Defence of the Wall on 31 August, which justified the riots as legitimate, but nowhere mention a coordinated plan. Izzat Darwaza, an Arab nationalist rival of al-Husseini, alone asserts, without details, that al-Husseini was responsible. Al-Husseini in his memoirs never claimed to have played such a role.
The High Commissioner received al-Husseini twice officially on 1 October 1929 and a week later, and the latter complained of pro-Zionist bias in an area where the Arab population still viewed Great Britain favorably. Al-Husseini argued that the weakness of the Arab position was that they lacked political representation in Europe, whereas for millennia, in his view, the Jews dominated with their genius for intrigue. He assured Chancellor of his cooperation in maintaining public order.
Political activities, 1930–1935
By 1928–1929 a coalition of a new Palestinian nationalist group began to challenge the hegemony so far exercised by al-Husseini. The group, more pragmatic, hailed from the landed gentry and from business circles, and was intent on what they considered a policy of more realistic accommodation to the Mandatory government. From this period on, a rift emerged, that was to develop into a feud between the directive elite of Palestinian Arabs.
In 1931, al-Husseini founded the World Islamic Congress, on which he was to serve as president. Versions differ as to whether or not al-Husseini supported Izz ad-Din al-Qassam when he undertook clandestine activities against the British Mandate authorities. His appointment as imam of the al-Istiqlal mosque in Haifa had been approved by al-Husseini. Lachman argues that he secretly encouraged, and perhaps financed al-Qassam at this period. Whatever their relations, the latter’s independent activism, and open challenge to the British authorities appears to have led to a rupture between the two. He vigorously opposed the Qassamites’ exactions against the Christian and Druze communities. By 1935 al-Husseini did take control of one clandestine organization, of whose nature he had not been informed until the preceding year,which had been set up in 1931 by Musa Kazim al-Husayni‘s son, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni and recruited from the Palestinian Arab Boy Scout movement, called the ‘Holy Struggle’ (al-jihad al-muqaddas). This and another paramilitary youth organization, al-Futuwwah, paralleled the clandestine Jewish Haganah. Rumours, and occasional discovery of caches and shipments of arms, strengthened military preparations on both sides.
1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine
On 19 April 1936, a wave of protest strikes and attacks against both the British authorities and Jews was unleashed in Palestine. Initially, the riots were led by Farhan al-Sa’di, a militant sheik of the northern al-Qassam group, with links to the Nashashibis. After the arrest and execution of Farhan, al-Husseini seized the initiative by negotiating an alliance with the al-Qassam faction. Apart from some foreign subsidies, including a substantial amount from Fascist Italy, he controlled waqf and orphan funds that generated annual income of about 115,000 Palestine pounds. After the start of the revolt, most of that money was used to finance the activities of his representatives throughout the country. To Italy’s Consul-General in Jerusalem, Mariano de Angelis, he explained in July that his decision to get directly involved in the conflict arose from the trust he reposed in Italian dictator Benito Mussolini‘s backing and promises. Upon al-Husseini’s initiative, the leaders of Palestinian Arab clans formed the Arab Higher Committee under the Mufti’s chairmanship. The Committee called for nonpayment of taxes after 15 May and for a general strike of Arab workers and businesses, demanding an end to the Jewish immigration. The British High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Arthur Wauchope, responded by engaging in negotiations with al-Husseini and the Committee. The talks, however, soon proved fruitless. Al-Husseini issued a series of warnings, threatening the ‘revenge of God Almighty’ unless the Jewish immigration were to stop, and the general strike began, paralyzing the government, public transportation, Arab businesses and agriculture.
As the time passed, by autumn the Arab middle class had exhausted its resources. Under these circumstances, the Mandatory government was looking for an intermediary who might help persuade the Arab Higher Committee to end the rebellion. Al-Husseini and the Committee rejected King Abdullah of Transjordan as mediator because of his dependence on the British and friendship with the Zionists, but accepted the Iraqi Foreign Minister Nuri as-Said. As Wauchope warned of an impending military campaign and simultaneously offered to dispatch a Royal Commission of Inquiry to hear the Arab complaints, the Arab Higher Committee called off the strike on 11 October. When the promised Royal Commission of Inquiry arrived in Palestine in November, al-Husseini testified before it as chief witness for the Arabs.
In July 1937, British police were sent to arrest al-Husseini for his part in the Arab rebellion, but, tipped off, he managed to escape to the sanctuary of asylum in the Haram. He stayed there for three months, directing the revolt from within. Four days after the assassination of the Acting District Commissioner for that area Lewis Yelland Andrews by Galilean members of the al-Qassam group on 26 September, al-Husseini was deposed from the presidency of the Muslim Supreme Council, the Arab Higher Committee was declared illegal, and warrants for the arrest of its leaders were issued, as being at least ‘morally responsible’, though no proofs existed for their complicity. Of them only Jamal al-Husayni managed to escape to Syria: the remaining five were exiled to theSeychelles. Al-Husseini was not among the indicted but, fearing imprisonment, on 13–14 October, after sliding under cover of darkness down a rope from the Haram’s wall, he himself fled via Jaffa to Lebanon, disguised as a Bedouin, where he reconstituted the committee under his leadership. Al-Husseini’s tactics, his abuse of power to punish other clans, and the killing of political adversaries he considered ‘traitors’, alienated many Palestinian Arabs. One local leader, Abu Shair, told Da’ud al-Husayni, an emissary from Damascus who bore a list of people to be assassinated during the uprising “I don’t work for Husayniya (‘Husayni-ism’) but for wataniya (nationalism).” He remained in Lebanon for two years, under French surveillance in the Christian village ofZouk, but, in October 1939, his deteriorating relationship with the French and Syrian authorities led him to withdraw to the Kingdom of Iraq. By June 1939, after the disintegration of the revolt, Husseini’s policy of killing only proven turncoats changed to one of liquidating all suspects, even members of his own family, according to one intelligence report.
The rebellion itself had lasted until March 1939, when it was finally quelled by British troops. It forced Britain to make substantial concessions to Arab demands. Jewish immigration was to continue but under restrictions, with a quota of 75,000 places spread out over the following five years. On the expiry of this period further Jewish immigration would depend on Arab consent. Besides local unrest, another key factor in bringing about a decisive change in British policy was Nazi Germany’s preparations for a European war, which would develop into a worldwide conflict. In British strategic thinking, securing the loyalty and support of the Arab world assumed an importance .of some urgency. While Jewish support was unquestioned, Arab backing in a new global conflict was by no means assured. By promising to phase out Jewish immigration into Palestine, Britain hoped to win back support from wavering Arabs. Husseini, allied to radical elements in exile, hailing from provincial Palestinian families, convinced the AHC, against moderate Palestinian families who were minded to accept it, to reject the White Paper of 1939, which had recommended an Arab-majority state and an end to building a Jewish national home. The rejection was based on its perceived failure to promise an end to immigration; the land policy it advocated was thought to provide imperfect remedies: and the promised independence appeared to depend on Jewish assent and cooperation. Husseini, who also had personal interests threatened by these arrangements, also feared that acceptance would strengthen the hand of his political opponents in the Palestine national movement, such as the Nashashibis. Schwanitz and Rubin argue that Husseini’s rejectionism was, ironically, the real causal factor for the establishment of the state of Israel.
Neve Gordon writes that al-Husseini regarded all alternative nationalist views as treasonous, opponents became traitors and collaborators, and patronizing or employing Jews of any description illegitimate. From Beirut he continued to issue directives. The price for murdering opposition leaders and peace leaders rose by July to 100 Palestinian pounds: a suspected traitor 25 pounds, and a Jew 10. Notwithstanding this, ties with the Jews were reestablished by leading families such as the Nashashibis, and by the Fahoum of Nazareth.
Ties with the Axis Powers during World War II
Throughout the interwar period, Arab nationalists bore Germany no ill-will, despite its earlier support for the Ottoman Empire. Like many Arab countries, it was perceived as a victim of the post-World War 1 settlement. Hitler himself often spoke of the ‘infamy of Versailles’. Unlike France and Great Britain it had not exercised imperial designs on the Middle East, and its past policy of non-intervention was interpreted as a token of good will. While the scholarly consensus is that Husseini’s motives for supporting the Axis powers and his alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were deeply inflected by anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist ideology from the outset, some scholars, notably Renzo De Felice, deny that the relationship can be taken to reflect a putative affinity of Arab nationalism with Nazi/Fascist ideology, and that men like Husseini chose them as allies for purely strategic reasons, on the grounds that, as Husseini later wrote in his memoirs,’the enemy of your enemy is your friend’. When Husseini eventually met with Hitler and Ribbentrop in 1941, he assured Hitler that ‘The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies… namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists’.
In 1933, within weeks of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, the German Consul-General in Palestine, the pro-nazi Heinrich Wolff, sent a telegram to Berlin reporting al-Husseini’s belief that Palestinian Muslims were enthusiastic about the new regime and looked forward to the spread of Fascism throughout the region. Wolff met al-Husseini and many sheiks again, a month later, at Nabi Musa. They expressed their approval of the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany and asked Wolff not to send any Jews to Palestine. Wolff subsequently wrote in his annual report for that year that the Arabs’ political naïvety led them to fail to recognize the link between German Jewish policy and their problems in Palestine, and that their enthusiasm for Nazi Germany was devoid of any real understanding of the phenomenon. The various proposals by Palestinian Arab notables like al-Husseini were rejected consistently over the years out of concern to avoid disrupting Anglo-German relations, in line with Germany’s policy of not imperilling their economic and cultural interests in the region by a change in their policy of neutrality, and respect for British interests. Hitler’s Englandpolitik essentially precluded significant assistance to Arab leaders. Italy also made the nature of its assistance to the Palestinian contingent on the outcome of its own negotiations with Britain, and cut off aid when it appeared that the British were ready to admit the failure of their pro-Zionist policy in Palestine. Al-Husseini’s adversary, Ze’ev Jabotinsky had at the same time cut off Irgun ties with Italy after the passage of antisemitic racial legislation.
Though Italy did offer substantial aid, some German assistance also trickled through. After asking the new German Consul-General, Hans Döhle on 21 July 1937 for support, the Abwehr briefly made an exception to its policy and gave some limited aid. But this was aimed to exert pressure on Britain over Czechoslovakia. Promised arms shipments never eventuated. This was not the only diplomatic front on which al-Husseini was active. A month after his visit to Döhle, he met with the American Consul George Wadsworth(August 1937), to whom he professed his belief that America was remote from imperialist ambitions and therefore able to understand that Zionism ‘represented a hostile and imperialist aggression directed against an inhabited country’. In a further interview with Wadsworth on 31 August, he expressed his fears that Jewish influence in the United States might persuade the country to side with Zionists. In the same period he courted the French government by expressing a willingness to assist them in the region.
Al-Husseini in Iraq
With the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the Iraqi Government complied with a British request to break off diplomatic relations with Germany, interned all German nationals, and introduced emergency measures putting Iraq on a virtual war-footing. A circle of 7 officers opposed this decision and the measures taken. With Nuri as-Said‘s agreement—he wished to persuade al-Husseini of the value of the British White Paper of 1939—they invited al-Husseini to Iraq in October 1939, and he was to play an influential role there in the following two years. A quadrumvirate of four younger generals among the seven, three of whom had served with al-Husseini in World War I, were hostile to the idea of subordinating Iraqi national interests to Britain’s war strategy and requirements. In March 1940, the nationalist Rashid Ali replaced Nuri as-Said. Ali made covert contacts with German representatives in the Middle East, though he was not yet an openly pro-Axis supporter, and al-Husseini’s personal secretary Kemal Hadad acted as a liaison between the Axis powers and these officers. As the European situation for the Allies deteriorated, Husseini advised Iraq to adhere to the letter to their treaty with Great Britain, and avoid being drawn into the war in order to conserve her energies for the liberation of Arab countries. Were Russia, Japan and Italy to side with Germany however, Iraqis should proclaim a revolt in Palestine.
In mid May 1940, despairing of their ability to secure control of Iraq’s oil fields and deny access to Germany, the British turned to the extremist Irgun, approaching one of its commanders, David Raziel, whom they had imprisoned in Mandatory Palestine. They asked him if he would undertake to destroy Iraq’s oil refineries, and thus turn off the spigots to Germany. Raziel agreed on condition he be allowed to “acquire”(kidnap) the Mufti and bring him back to Palestine. The mission plan was changed at the last moment, however, and Raziel died when his plane was shot down by a German fighter.
Al-Husseini used his influence and ties with the Germans to promote Arab nationalism in Iraq. He was among the key promoters of the pan-Arab Al-Muthanna Club, and supported the coup d’état by Rashid Ali in April 1941. The situation of Iraq’s Jews rapidly deteriorated, with extortions and sometimes murders taking place. When the Anglo-Iraqi War broke out, al-Husseini used his influence to issue a fatwa for a holy war against Britain. As the British advanced on the capital, the Farhud pogrom in Baghdad, led by members of the Al-Muthanna Club, which had served as a conduit for German propaganda funding, erupted in June 1941, following the Iraqi defeat and the collapse of Rashid Ali‘s government. The pogrom was rooted in antisemitic incitement during the preceding decade against the backdrop of the conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine.
When the war failed for the Iraqis—given its paucity, German and Italian assistance played a negligible role in the war—al-Husseini escaped to Persia (together with Rashid Ali), where he was granted legation asylum first by Japan, and then by Italy. On 8 October, after the occupation of Persia by the Allies and after the new Persian government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi severed diplomatic relations with the Axis powers, al-Husseini was taken under Italian protection and conveyed through Turkey to Axis Europe in an operation organized by Italian Military Intelligence (Servizio Informazioni Militari, or SIM).
In Nazi-occupied Europe
Al-Husseini arrived in Rome on 10 October 1941. He outlined his proposals before Alberto Ponce de Leon. On condition that the Axis powers ‘recognize in principle the unity, independence, and sovereignty, of an Arab state, including Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan’, he offered support in the war against Britain and stated his willingness to discuss the issues of ‘the Holy Places, Lebanon, the Suez Canal, and Aqaba‘. The Italian foreign ministry approved al-Husseini’s proposal, recommended giving him a grant of one million lire, and referred him to Benito Mussolini, who met al-Husseini on 27 October. According to al-Husseini’s account, it was an amicable meeting in which Mussolini expressed his hostility to the Jews and Zionism.
Back in the summer of 1940 and again in February 1941, al-Husseini submitted to the Nazi German Government a draft declaration of German-Arab cooperation, containing a clause:
Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements, which exist in Palestine and in the other Arab countries, as required by the national and ethnic (völkisch) interests of the Arabs, and as the Jewish question was solved in Germany and Italy.
Encouraged by his meeting with the Italian leader, al-Husseini prepared a draft declaration, affirming the Axis support for the Arabs on 3 November. In three days, the declaration, slightly amended by the Italian foreign ministry, received the formal approval of Mussolini and was forwarded to the German embassy in Rome. On 6 November, al-Husseini arrived in Berlin, where he discussed the text of his declaration with Ernst von Weizsäcker and other German officials. In the final draft, which differed only marginally from al-Husseini’s original proposal, the Axis powers declared their readiness to approve the elimination (Beseitigung) of the Jewish National Home in Palestine.
Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (December 1941).
On 20 November, al-Husseini met the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and was officially received by Adolf Hitler on 28 November. He asked Adolf Hitler for a public declaration that ‘recognized and sympathized with the Arab struggles for independence and liberation, and that would support the elimination of a national Jewish homeland’. Hitler refused to make such a public announcement, saying that it would strengthen the Gaullists against the Vichy France, but asked al-Husseini ‘to lock …deep in his heart’ the following points, which Christopher Browning summarizes as follows, that
‘Germany has resolved, step by step, to ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem, and at the proper time, direct a similar appeal to non-European nations as well’. When Germany had defeated Russia and broken through the Caucasus into the Middle East, it would have no further imperial goals of its own and would support Arab liberation… But Hitler did have one goal. “Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power”. (Das deutsche Ziel würde dann lediglich die Vernichtung des im arabischen Raum unter der Protektion der britischen Macht lebenden Judentums sein). In short, Jews were not simply to be driven out of the German sphere but would be hunted down and destroyed even beyond it.’
Al-Husseini meeting with Muslim volunteers, including the Legion of Azerbaijan, at the opening of the Islamic Central Institute in Berlin on 18 December 1942, during the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.
A separate record of the meeting was made by Fritz Grobba, who until recently had been the German ambassor to Iraq. His version of the crucial words reads “when the hour of Arab liberation comes, Germany has no interest there other than the destruction of the power protecting the Jews”. Al-Husseini’s own account of this point, as recorded in his diary, is very similar to Grobba’s. According to Amin’s account, however, when Hitler expounded his view that the Jews were responsible for World War I, Marxism and its revolutions, and this was why the task of Germans was to persevere in a battle without mercy against the Jews, he replied: “We Arabs think that Zionism, not the Jews, is the cause of all of these acts of sabotage.”
In December 1942, al-Husseini held a speech at the celebration of the opening of the Islamic Central Institute (Islamische Zentralinstitut) in Berlin, of which he served as honorary chair. In the speech, he harshly criticised those he considered as aggressors against Muslims, namely “Jews, Bolsheviks and Anglo-Saxons.” At the time of the opening of the Islamic Central Institute, there were an estimated 3,000 Muslims in Germany, including 400 German converts. The Islamic Central Institute gave the Muslims in Germany institutional ties to the ‘Third Reich’.
Al-Husseini and the Holocaust
In post-war historiography some attempts have been made to portray Husseini as an architect of the Holocaust, a thesis revived recently by Schwanitz and Rubin. Documents, such as the testimony of Fritz Grobba,confirm that an associate of al-Husseini’s, together with three associates of former Iraqi Prime Minister certainly did visit the Sachsenhausen concentration camp as part of a German secret police “training course” in July 1942. At the time, the Sachsenhausen camp housed large numbers of Jews, but was only transformed into a death camp in the following year. Their tour through the camp presented it as a re-educational institution, and they were shown the high quality of objects made by inmates, and happy Russian prisoners who, reformed to fight Bolshevism, were paraded, singing, in sprightly new uniforms. They left the camp very favourably impressed by its programme of educational indoctrination.
Various sources have repeatedly alleged that he visited other concentration camps, and also the death camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka and Mauthausen, and according to Höpp there is little conclusive documentary evidence to substantiate these other visits. Although some historians have questioned al-Husseini’s knowledge of the Holocaust while it was in progress, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz notes that in his memoirs Husseini recalled that Heinrich Himmler, in the summer of 1943, while confiding some German war secrets, inveighed against Jewish “war guilt”, and revealed the on-going extermination (in Arabic, abadna) of the Jews.
Gilbert Achcar, referring to this meeting with Himmler, observes:
The Mufti was well aware that the European Jews were being wiped out; he never claimed the contrary. Nor, unlike some of his present-day admirers, did he play the ignoble, perverse, and stupid game of Holocaust denial…. His amour-propre would not allow him to justify himself to the Jews….gloating that the Jews had paid a much higher price than the Germans… he cites… : ‘Their losses in the Second World War represent more than thirty percent of the total number of their people …’. Statements like this, from a man who was well placed to know what the Nazis had done … constitute a powerful argument against Holocaust deniers. Husseini reports that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler … told him in summer 1943 that the Germans had ‘already exterminated more than three million’ Jews: “I was astonished by this figure, as I had known nothing about the matter until then.” …. Thus. in 1943, Husseini knew about the genocide….
The memoir then continues:-
Himmler asked me on the occasion: ‘How do you propose to settle the Jewish question in your country?’ I replied: ‘All we want from them is that they return to their countries of origin.’ He (Himmler) replied: ‘We shall never authorize their return to Germany.’Laurens 2002, p. 469.
By Husseini’s admission therefore he was informed of the Nazi genocide of the Jews certainly by the summer of 1943. Wolfgang G. Schwanitz doubts the sincerity of his surprise since, he argues, Husseini had publicly declared that Muslims should follow the example Germans set for a “definitive solution to the Jewish problem”.
Subsequently, the Mufti declared in November, 1943:
It is the duty of Muhammadans in general and Arabs in particular to … drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries….Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution [endgültige Lösung] for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world. ….
At the Nuremberg trials, one of Adolf Eichmann‘s deputies, Dieter Wisliceny, stated that al-Husseini had actively encouraged the extermination of European Jews, and that he had had an elaborate meeting with Eichmann at his office, during which Eichmann gave him an intensive look at the current state of the “Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe” by the Third Reich. These allegations are controversial. A single affidavit by Rudolf Kastner reported that Wisliceny told him that he had overheard Husseini say he had visited Auschwitz incognito in Eichmann’s company. Eichmann denied this at his trial in Jerusalem in 1961. He had been invited to Palestine in 1937 with his superior Hagen by a representative of the Haganah, Feival Polkes, Polkes supported German foreign policy in the Near East and offered to work for them in intelligence. Eichmann and Hagen spent one night in Haifa but were refused a visa to stay any longer. They met Polkes in Cairo instead. Eichmann stated that he had only been introduced to al-Husseini during an official reception, along with all other department heads. The Jerusalem court accepted Wisliceny’s testimony about a key conversation between Eichmann and the mufti, and found as proven that al-Husseini had aimed to implement the Final Solution. Hannah Arendt, who was present at the trial, concluded in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil the evidence for an Eichmann- al-Husseini connection was based on rumour and unfounded.
Rafael Medoff concludes that ‘actually there is no evidence that the Mufti’s presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but conflicts with everything else that is known about the origins of the Final Solution.’ Bernard Lewis also called Wisliceny’s testimony into doubt: ‘There is no independent documentary confirmation of Wisliceny’s statements, and it seems unlikely that the Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from the outside.’ Bettina Stangneth called Wisliceny’s claims “colourful stories” that “carry little weight”.
Al-Husseini’s attempts to block Jewish refugees
The Mufti opposed all immigration of Jews into Palestine. The Mufti’s numerous letters appealing to various governmental authorities to prevent Jewish emigration to Palestine have been widely republished and cited as documentary evidence of his collaboration with Nazis and his participative support for their genocidal actions. For instance, Husseini intervened on 13 May 1943, before the meeting with Himmler when he was informed of the Holocaust, with the German Foreign Office to block possible transfers of Jews from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, after reports reached him that 4,000 Jewish children accompanied by 500 adults had managed to reach Palestine. He asked that the Foreign Minister “to do his utmost” to block all such proposals and this request was complied with. According to Idith Zertal, none of the documents presented at Eichmann’s trial prove that it was the Mufti’s interference, in these ‘acts of total evil,’ that prevented the children’s rescue. In June 1943 the Mufti recommended to the Hungarian minister that it would be better to send Jews in Hungary to Concentration Camps in Poland rather than let them find asylum in Palestine (it is not entirely clear that the Mufti was aware of the Extermination Camps in Poland, e.g. Auschwitz, at this time). A year later, on 25 July 1944 (when he certainly knew the details about the Nazi program to destroy the Jews) he wrote to the Hungarian foreign minister to register his objection to the release of certificates for 900 Jewish children and 100 adults for transfer from Hungary, fearing they might end up in Palestine. He suggested that if such transfers of population were deemed necessary, then:
I ask your Excellency to permit me to draw your attention to the necessity of preventing the Jews from leaving your country for Palestine, and if there are reasons which make their removal necessary, it would be indispensable and infinitely preferable to send them to other countries where they would find themselves under active control, for example, in Poland, thus avoiding danger and preventing damage.”
Haj Amin al-Husseini and Nazi collaborator Mile Budak in occupied Sarajevo (1943).
Achcar quotes the Mufti’s memoirs about these efforts to influence the Axis powers to prevent emigration of Eastern European Jews to Palestine:
We combatted this enterprise by writing to Ribbentrop, Himmler, and Hitler, and, thereafter, the governments of Italy, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and other countries. We succeeded in foiling this initiative, a circumstance that led the Jews to make terrible accusations against me, in which they held me accountable for the liquidation of four hundred thousand Jews who were unable to emigrate to Palestine in this period. They added that I should be tried as a war criminal in Nurenberg.
In November, 1943 (when he certainly was aware of the genocidal nature of the Nazi Final Solution) the Mufti said:
It is the duty of Muhammadans in general and Arabs in particular to … drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries….Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution [endgültige Lösung] for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world. ….
In September 1943, intense negotiations to rescue 500 Jewish children from the Arbe concentration camp collapsed due to the objection of al-Husseini who blocked the children’s departure to Turkey because they would end up in Palestine.
Intervention in Palestine and Operation Atlas
The Mufti collaborated with the Germans in numerous sabotage and commando operations in Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine, and repeatedly urged the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv and Jerusalem ‘in order to injure Palestinian Jewry and for propaganda purposes in the Arab world’, as his Nazi interlocutors put it. The proposals were rejected as unfeasible. The Italian Fascists envisaged a project to establish him as head of an intelligence centre in North Africa, and he agreed to act as commander of both regular and irregular forces in a future unit flanking Axis troops to carry out sabotage operations behind enemy lines.
Operation ATLAS was one such joint operation. A special commando unit of the Waffen SS was created, composed of three members of the Templer religious sect in Palestine, and two Palestinian Arabs recruited from the Mufti’s associates, Hasan Salama and Abdul Latif (who had edited the Mufti’s Berlin radio addresses). It has been established that the mission, briefed by al-Husseini before departure, aimed at establishing an intelligence-gathering base in Palestine, radioing information back to Germany, and buying support among Arabs in Palestine, recruiting and arming them to foment tensions between Jews and Arabs, disrupting the Mandatory authorities and striking Jewish targets. The plan ended in fiasco: they received a cold reception in Palestine, three of the five infiltrators were quickly rounded up, and the matériel seized. Their air-dropped cargo was found by the British, and consisted of explosives, submachine guns, and dynamite, radio, submachine guns, dynamite, radio equipment, 5,000 Pound sterling, a duplicating machine, a German-Arabic dictionary, and a quantity of poison. Michael Bar-Zohar and Eitan Haber, report that the mission included a plan to poison the Tel Aviv water supply, There is no trace of this poison plot in the standard biographies, Palestinian and Israeli, of Husseini.
Bosniak soldiers of the SS 13 Division, reading Husseini’s pamphletIslam and Judaism
Throughout World War II, al-Husseini worked for the Axis Powers as a broadcaster in propaganda targeting Arab public opinion. He was thereby joined by other Arabs such as Fawzi al-Qawuqji and Hasan Salama. The Mufti was paid “an absolute fortune” of 50,000 marks a month (when a German field marshal was making 25,000 marks a year), the equivalent today of $12,000,000 a year. Walter Winchell called him ‘the Arabian Lord Haw-Haw.’
The Mufti also wrote a pamphlet for the 13th SS Handschar division, translated as Islam i Zidovstvo (Islam and Judaism) which closed with a quotation from Bukhari-Muslim by Abu Khurreira that states:”The Day of Judgement will come, when the Muslims will crush the Jews completely: And when every tree behind which a Jew hides will say: ‘There is a Jew behind me, Kill him!”.
On 1 March 1944, while speaking on Radio Berlin, al-Husseini said: ‘Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.’
Haj Amin el-Husseini reviewing SS 13th Division soldiers from a car
Among the Nazi leadership, the greatest interest in the idea of creating Muslim units under German command was shown by Heinrich Himmer, who viewed the Islamic world as a potential ally against the British Empire and regarded the Nazi-puppet Independent State of Croatia as a ‘ridiculous state’. Himmler had a romantic vision of Islam as a faith ‘fostering fearless soldiers’, and this probably played a significant role in his decision to raise three Muslim divisions under German leadership in the Balkans from Bosnian Muslims and Albanians: the 13th Handschar, the 21st Skanderberg, and the 23rd Kama (Shepherd’s dagger). Riven by interethnic conflict, the region’s Jewish, Croat, Roma, Serb and Muslim communities suffered huge losses of life, Bosnian Muslims losing around 85,000 from a genocidal Chetnik ethnic cleansing operations alone. The Muslims had three options: to join the Croatian Ustaše, or the Yugoslav partisans, or to create local defense units. Following a tradition of service in the old Bosnian regiments of the former Austro-Hungarian army, they chose an alliance with Germany, which promised them autonomy. Husseini, having been petitioned by the Bosnian Muslim leaders, was well informed of their plight. Dissatisfied with low enlistenment, Himmler asked the mufti to intervene. Husseini negotiated, made several requests, mostly ignored by the SS, and conducted several visits to the area. His speeches and charismatic authority proved instrumental in improving enlistment notably. In one speech he declared that:
Those lands suffering under the British and Bolshevist yoke impatiently await the moment when the Axis (powers) will emerge victorious. We must dedicate ourselves to unceasing struggle against Britain -that dungeon of peoples – and to the complete destruction of the British Empire.We must dedicate ourselves to unceasing struggle against Bolshevist Russia because communism is incompatible with Islam.’
One SS officer reporting on impressions from the mufti’s Sarajevo speech said Husseini was reserved about fighting Bolshevism, his main enemies being Jewish settlers in Palestine and the English. During a visit in July 1943 the Mufti said: “The active cooperation of the world’s 400 million Muslims with their loyal friends, the German, can be of decisive influence upon the outcome of the war. You, my Bosnian Muslims, are the first Islamic division [and] serve as an example of the active collaboration….My enemy’s enemy is my friend.”  Himmler in addressing the unit on another occasion declared “Germany [and] the Reich have been friends of Islam for the past two centuries, owing not to expediency but to friendly conviction. We have the same goals.”
In an agreement signed by Husseini and Himmler on May 19, 1943, it was specified that no synthesis of Islam and Nationalism was to take place. Husseini asked that Muslim divisional operations to be restricted to the defense of the Moslem heartland of Bosnia and Herzegovina; that partisans be amnestied if they laid down their arms; that the civilian population not be subject to vexations by troops;that assistance be offered to innocents injured by operations; and that harsh measures like deportations, confiscations of goods, or executions be governed in accordance with the rule of law. The Handschar earned a repute for brutality in ridding north-eastern Bosnia of Serbs and partisans: many local Muslims, observing the violence, were driven to go over to the communist partisans. Once redeployed outside Bosnia, and as the fortunes of war turned, mass defections and desertions took place, and Volksdeutsche were drafted to replace the losses. The mufti blamed the mass desertions on German support for the Četniks. Many Bosnians in these divisions who survived the war sought asylum in Western and Arab countries, and of those settling in the Middle East, many fought in Palestine against the new state of Israel. In 1942, al-Husseini helped organize Arab students and North African emigres in Germany into the “Arabisches Freiheitkorps,” an Arab Legion in the German Army that hunted down Allied parachutists in the Balkans and fought on the Russian front.
Activities after World War II
Arrest and flight
After the end of the Second World War, al-Husseini attempted to obtain asylum in Switzerland but his request was refused. He was taken into custody at Constanz by the French occupying troops on 5 May 1945, and on 19 May, he was transferred to the Paris region and put under house arrest.
At around this time, the British head of Palestine’s Criminal Investigation Division told an American military attaché that the Mufti might be the only person who could unite the Palestinian Arabs and ‘cool off the Zionists’.
Henri Ponsot, a former ambassador of France in Syria, led the discussions with him and had a decisive influence on the events. The French authorities expected an improvement in France’s status in the Arab world through his intermediaries and accorded him “special detention conditions, benefits and ever more important privileges and constantly worried about his well-being and that of his entourage”. In October, he was even given permission to buy a car in the name of one of his secretaries and enjoyed some freedom of movement and could also meet whoever he wanted. Al-Husseini proposed to the French two possibilities of cooperation: ‘either an action in Egypt, Iraq and even Transjordan to calm the anti-French excitement after the events in Syria and because of its domination in North Africa; or that he would take the initiative of provocations in [Palestine], in Egypt and in Iraq against Great Britain’, so that the Arabs countries will pay more attention to British policy than to that of France. Al-Husseini was very satisfied with his situation in France and stayed there for a full year.
As early as 24 May, Great Britain requested al-Husseini’s extradition, arguing that he was a British citizen who had collaborated with the Nazis. Despite the fact that he was on the list of war criminals, France decided to consider him as a political prisoner and refused to comply with the British request. France also refused to extradite him to Yugoslavia where the government wanted to prosecute him for the massacres of Serbs. Poussot believed al-Husseini’s claims that the massacre of Serbs had been performed by General Mikhailovitch and not by him. Al-Husseini also explained that 200,000 Muslims and 40,000 Christians had been assassinated by the Serbs and that he had established a division of soldiers only after Bosnian Muslims had asked for his help, and that Germans and Italians had refused to provide any support to them. In the meantime, Zionist representatives—fearing that al-Husseini would escape—backed Yugoslavia’s request for extradition. They stated that al-Husseini was also responsible for massacres in Greece and pointed out his action against the Allies in Iraq in 1941; additionally they requested the support of the United States in the matter.
The reputation of Haj Amin al-Husseini among Jews in the immediate postwar period is indicated by the observation by Raul Hilberg that when culpability for the destruction of the European Jews was debated in 1945, al-Husseini was the only specific individual singled out to be put on trial. In June, Yishuv leaders decided to eliminate al-Husseini. Although al-Husseini was located by Jewish Army members who began to plan an assassination, the mission was canceled in December by Moshe Sharett or by David Ben-Gurion, probably because they feared turning the Grand Mufti into a martyr.
A campaign of intimidation was launched to convince the mufti that at Léon Blum’s request he would be handed over to the British. In September, the French decided to organize his transfer to an Arab country. Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Yemen were considered and diplomatic contacts were made with their authorities and with the Arab League.
On 29 May, after an influential Moroccan had organized his escape, and the French police had suspended their surveillance, al-Husseini left France on a TWA flight for Cairo using travel papers supplied by a Syrian politician who was close to the Muslim brotherhood. It took more than 12 days for the French Foreign Minister to realize he had fled, and the British were not able to arrest him in Egypt, after that country granted him political asylum.
On 12 August 1947, al-Husseini wrote to French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault, thanking France for its hospitality and suggesting that France continue this policy to increase its prestige in the eyes of all Muslims. In September, a delegation of the Arab Higher Committee went to Paris and proposed that Arabs would adopt a neutral position on the North African question in exchange of France’s support in the Palestinian question.
1948 Palestine war
The U.N. Partition Resolution
When the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine delivered its recommendations for the partition of Palestine, the High Commissioner of Palestine, Alan Cunningham sent emissaries to Cairo to sound out the Mufti, though transferring any power of state to him was unthinkable. Interviewed on the Ist of September, he said that the proposed partition was unjust, since it deprived the Arabs of Palestine of what belonged to them, and would not satisfy in any case the Zionists, who desired all of the country. He cited the example of Chaim Weizmann, who opposed the idea of a Jewish state in 1922, approved partition in 1937, and at the Biltmore Conference in 1942, laid claim to the whole of Palestine. It was said of Hitler, he added, that he would never try to apply the ideas he set forth in Mein Kampf. The Zionists, he asserted, would never restrict their programme to a part of Palestine, for l’appétit vient en mangeant(the more you get the more you want). The English would never have ceded a part of their country in exchange for peace with the Nazis. Zionism was a bluff like Italian fascism, which would collapse at the first shock.
The wartime reputation of Haj Amin al-Husseini was employed as an argument for the establishment of a Jewish State during the deliberations at UN in 1947. The Nation Associates under Freda Kirchwey prepared a nine page pamphlet with annexes for the United Nations entitled The Arab Higher Committee, Its Origins, Personnel and Purposes. This booklet included copies of communications between Haj Amin al-Husseini and high ranking Nazis (e.g. Heinrich Himmler, Franz von Papen, Joseph Goebbels), the Mufti’s diary account of meeting Hitler, several letters to German officials in several countries where he requested that Jews never be permitted to emigrate from Europe to a Jewish Home in Palestine, and many photographs of the Mufti, Rashid Ali, and other Arab politicians in the company of Nazis and their Italian and Japanese allies. It claimed to demonstrate that German Nazis and Palestinian politicians (some of whom were requesting recognition at the UN in 1947 as representatives of the Palestinian Arab population) had made common cause during World War II in their opposition to the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. In May 1948, the Israeli government thanked Kirchwey for “having a good and honorable share of our success”, at least partly as a consequence of distributing information on al-Husseini to the UN representatives.
On the eve of the United Nations’ partition of Mandatory Palestine, King Abdullah, who shared with Zionists a hostility to Palestinian nationalism, reached a secret entente with Golda Meir to thwart the mufti and annex the part of Palestine in exchange for Jordan’s dropping its opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state. The meeting, in Shlaim’s words, ‘laid the foundations for a partition of Palestine along lines radically different from the ones eventually envisaged by the United Nations’. Husseini’s popularity in the Arab world had risen during his time with the Nazis, and Arab leaders rushed to greet him on his return, and the masses accorded him an enthusiastic reception, an attitude which was to change rapidly after the defeat of 1948, when he was singled out as a scapegoat to blame for the failure.
From his Egyptian exile, al-Husseini used what influence he had to encourage the participation of the Egyptian military in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. He was involved in some high level negotiations between Arab leaders—before and during the War—at a meeting held in Damascus in February 1948, to organize Palestinian Field Commands and the commanders of the Holy War Army. Hasan Salama and Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni (Amin al-Husseini’s nephew), were allocated the Lydda district and Jerusalem respectively. This decision paved the way for undermining the Mufti’s position among the Arab States. On 9 February 1948, four days after the Damascus meeting, he suffered a severe setback at the Arab League‘s Cairo session, when his demands for more Palestinian self-determination in areas evacuated by the British, and for financial loans were rejected. His demands included, the appointment of a Palestinian Arab representative to the League’s General Staff, the formation of a Palestinian Provisional Government, the transfer of authority to local National Committees in areas evacuated by the British, and both a loan for Palestinian administration and an appropriation of large sums to the Arab Higher Executive for Palestinian Arabs entitled to war damages.
The Arab League blocked recruitment to al-Husseini’s forces, and they collapsed following the death of one of his most charismatic commanders, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, on 8 April 1948.
Anwar Nusseibeh, a supporter of the Mufti, said the Mufti refused to issue arms to anyone except his loyal supporters and only recruited loyal supporters for the forces of the Holy War Army. This partially accounts for the absence of an organized Arab force and for the insufficient amount of arms, which plagued the Arab defenders of Jerusalem.
Establishment of All-Palestine Government
Following rumors that King Abdullah I of Transjordan was reopening the bilateral negotiations with Israel that he had previously conducted clandestinely with the Jewish Agency, the Arab League—led by Egypt—decided to set up the All-Palestine Government in Gaza on 8 September 1948, under the nominal leadership of al-Husseini. Avi Shlaim writes:
‘The decision to form the Government of All-Palestine in Gaza, and the feeble attempt to create armed forces under its control, furnished the members of the Arab League with the means of divesting themselves of direct responsibility for the prosecution of the war and of withdrawing their armies from Palestine with some protection against popular outcry. Whatever the long-term future of the Arab government of Palestine, its immediate purpose, as conceived by its Egyptian sponsors, was to provide a focal point of opposition to Abdullah and serve as an instrument for frustrating his ambition to federate the Arab regions with Transjordan’.
The All-Palestine Government was declared in Gaza on 22 September, in a way as a countermeasure against Jordan. According to Moshe Ma’oz this was “a mere tool to justify Cairo’s occupation of the Gaza Strip”  Pre-conference by the Arab League obtained an agreement to have Ahmad Hilma Pasha preside over the government, while giving al-Husseini a nominal role, devoid of responsibilities. A Palestinian National Council was convened in Gaza on 30 September 1948, under the chairmanship of Amin al-Husseini. On 30 September, al-Husseini was elected unanimously as President, but had no authority outside the areas controlled by Egypt. The council passed a series of resolutions culminating on 1 October 1948 with a declaration of independence over the whole of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital.
The All-Palestine Government was hence born under the nominal leadership of Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, named as its President. Ahmed Hilmi Abd al-Baqi was named Prime Minister. Hilmi’s cabinet consisted largely of relatives and followers of Amin al-Husseini, but also included representatives of other factions of the Palestinian ruling class. Jamal al-Husayni became foreign minister, Raja al-Husayni became defense minister, Michael Abcarius was finance minister, and Anwar Nusseibeh was secretary of the cabinet. Twelve ministers in all, living in different Arab countries, headed for Gaza to take up their new positions. The decision to set up the All-Palestine Government made the Arab Higher Committee irrelevant, but Amin al-Husseini continued to exercise an influence in Palestinian affairs.
Jordan’s Abdullah retaliated on 2 October by organizing a Palestinian congress, which countermanded the decision taken in Gaza. Abdullah regarded the attempt to revive al-Husseini’s Holy War Army as a challenge to his authority and on 3 October, his minister of defense ordered all armed bodies operating in the areas controlled by the Arab Legion to be disbanded. Glubb Pasha carried out the order ruthlessly and efficiently. Nonetheless, Egypt, which manipulated its formation, recognized the All-Palestine Government on 12 October, followed by Syria and Lebanon on 13 October, Saudi Arabia the 14th and Yemen on the 16th. Iraq’s decision to the same was made formally on the 12th, but was not made public. Both Great Britain and the US backed Jordan, the US saying that the mufti’s role in World War II could be neither forgotten nor pardoned. The sum effect was that:
‘The leadership of al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Arab Higher Committee, which had dominated the Palestinian political scene since the 1920s, was devastated by the disaster of 1948 and discredited by its failure to prevent it.’
The nakba narratives, according to Hillel Cohen, tend to ignore the open resistance to al-Husseini by many influential Palestinians. A member of the Darwish family on expressing dissent with Husseini’s war objective in favour of negotiation was told by the mufti: idha takalam al-seif, uskut ya kalam—’when the sword talks, there is no place for talking’. Many recalled his policy of assassinating mukhtars in the Revolt of 1936–39 and viewed Husseini and his kind as ‘an assembly of traitors’. The opposition of a relevant percentage of the Palestinian society to al-Husseini goes back to an earlier period and was also connected to the British way of dealing with the local majority: ‘The present administration of Palestine’, lamented for example the representatives of the Palestine Arab Delegation in a letter to British public opinion in 1930, ‘is appointed by His Majesty’s Government and governs the country through an autocratic system in which the population has no say’.
Exile from Palestine
Although al-Husseini had been removed from the Supreme Muslim Council and other administrative roles by the British government in 1937, they did not remove him from the post of mufti of Jerusalem. They later explained this as due to the lack of legal procedure or precedent. However, on December 20, 1948, Abdullah announced his replacement as mufti by his long-term rival Husam Al-din Jarallah.
The king was assassinated on 20 July 1951, on the eve of projected secret talks with Israel, by a militant, Mustafa Ashu, of the jihad al-muqaddas, while entering the Haram ash-Sharif to pray. There is no evidence al-Husseini was involved, though Musa al-Husayni was among the six indicted and executed after a disputed verdict. Abdullah was succeeded by King Talal—who refused to allow al-Husseini entry into Jerusalem. Abdullah’s grandson, Hussein, who had been present at the murder, eventually lifted the ban in 1967, receiving al-Husseini as an honoured guest in his Jerusalem royal residence after uprooting the PLO from Jordan.
The Palestinian Government was entirely relocated to Cairo in late October 1948 and became a government-in-exile, gradually losing any importance. Having a part in the All-Palestine Government, al-Husseini also remained in exile at Heliopolis in Egypt throughout much of the 1950s. As before 1948, when the Yishuv believed the ex-Mufti’s hand could be detected ‘behind every anti-Jewish pogrom, murder, and act of sabotage’, Israel persisted in asserting that al-Husseini was behind many border raids from Jordanian and Egyptian-held territory, and Egypt expressed a readiness to deport him if evidence were forthcoming to substantiate the charges. The All-Palestine Government was eventually dissolved in 1959 by Nasser himself, who envisaged a United Arab Republicembracing Syria, Egypt and Palestine. That year he moved to Lebanon. He refused requests to lend his support to the emergent PLO after the Six Day War of 1967, was opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state on the west Bank after 1967. and his closest collaborator, Emil Ghuri, continued to work for the Jordanian monarchy even after the massacre of Palestinians there in 1970.
Al-Husseini died in Beirut, on 4 July 1974. He had wished to be buried on the Haram ash-Sharif in Jerusalem. However, Israel had captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. The Supreme Muslim Council asked the Israeli government permission to bury him there but permission was refused. Three days later, al-Husseini was buried in Beirut. Within two years, the Christian Lebanese Phalange sacked his villa, and stole his files and archives. His granddaughter married Ali Hassan Salameh, the founder of PLO’sBlack September, who was later killed by Mossad for his involvement in the Munich massacre. According to Zvi Elpeleg, almost all trace of his memory thereafter vanished from Palestinian awareness, and Palestinians have raised no monument to his memory, or written books commemorating his deeds.
Amin al-Husseini and antisemitism
Al-Husseini’s first biographer, Moshe Pearlman, described him as virulently antisemitic, as did, a decade and a half later, Joseph Schechtman. More recent biographers like Mattar and Elpeleg, writing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, began to emphasize hisnationalism. While the Palestinian historian Mattar blames him as the main culprit of sowing the seeds of the Arab–Israeli conflict, Israeli historian Elpeleg compares him to Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, and even to Theodor Herzl. Peter Wien judges that his behaviour in World War II deserved the image among Zionists of him as an ‘arch villain’, but adds that Israeli and Zionist leaders have long since used this to denigrate the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation as inspired by Nazism and anti-semitism.
Scholarly opinion is divided on the issue, with many scholars viewing him as a staunch antisemite while some deny the appropriateness of the term, or argue that he became antisemitic. Robert Kiely sees Husseini as moving “incrementally toward anti-Semitism as he opposed Jewish ambitions in the region.” Historian Zvi Elpeleg, who formerly governed both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while rehabilitating him from other charges, concludes his chapter concerning al-Husseini’s involvement in the extermination of the Jews as follows:
‘[i]n any case, there is no doubt that Haj Amin’s hatred was not limited to Zionism, but extended to Jews as such. His frequent, close contacts with leaders of the Nazi regime cannot have left Haj Amin any doubt as to the fate which awaited Jews whose emigration was prevented by his efforts. His many comments show that he was not only delighted that Jews were prevented from emigrating to Palestine, but was very pleased by the Nazis’ Final Solution’.
Walter Laqueur, Benny Morris, Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers are among the historians who share the view that al-Husseini was biased against Jews, not just against Zionists. Morris, for instance, notes that al-Husseini saw the Holocaust as German revenge for a putative Jewish sabotaging of their war effort in World War I, and has written that “Haj Amin al-Husseini was an antisemite. This is clear from his writings. I am not saying he was just an anti-Zionist, he hated the Jews, ‘Jews were evil'”.In a study dedicated to the role and use of the Holocaust in Israeli nationalist discourse, Idith Zertal reexamining al-Husseini’s antisemitism, states that ‘in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader’.
Evaluations of Husseini’s historical significance
Robert Fisk, discussing the difficulties of describing al-Husseini’s life and its motivations, summarized the problem in the following way:
‘(M)erely to discuss his life is to be caught up in the Arab–Israeli propaganda war. To make an impartial assessment of the man’s career—or, for that matter, an unbiased history of the Arab–Israeli dispute—is like trying to ride two bicycles at the same time.’
Peter Novick has argued that the post-war historiographical depiction of al-Husseini reflected complex geopolitical interests that distorted the record.
‘The claims of Palestinian complicity in the murder of the European Jews were to some extent a defensive strategy, a preemptive response to the Palestinian complaint that if Israel was recompensed for the Holocaust, it was unjust that Palestinian Muslims should pick up the bill for the crimes of European Christians. The assertion that Palestinians were complicit in the Holocaust was mostly based on the case of the Mufti of Jerusalem, a pre-World War II Palestinian nationalist leader who, to escape imprisonment by the British, sought refuge during the war in Germany. The Mufti was in many ways a disreputable character, but post-war claims that he played any significant part in the Holocaust have never been sustained. This did not prevent the editors of the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust from giving him a starring role. The article on the Mufti is more than twice as long as the articles on Goebbels and Göring, longer than the articles on Himmler and Heydrich combined, longer than the article on Eichmann—of all the biographical articles, it is exceeded in length, but only slightly, by the entry for Hitler.’
In 2014 Schwanitz and Rubin claimed Husseini exercised a huge influence on Hitler and was indeed the architect of the Final Solution, a thesis Mikics, who regards Husseini as a ‘radical anti-semite, finds both ‘astonishing’ and ‘silly’, since it would logically entail the collateral thesis that the Zionist movement triggered the Holocaust.
Gilbert Achcar sums up al-Husseini’s significance:
“One must note in passing that Amin al-Husseini’s memoirs are an antidote against Holocaust denial: He knew that the genocide took place and boasted of having been perfectly aware of it from 1943 on. I believe he is an architect of the Nakba (the defeat of 1948 and the departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who had been driven out of their lands) in the sense that he bears a share of responsibility for what has happened to the Palestinian people.”
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