By Aaron Klein
The president of a think tank that arranged a conference call Monday between the White House and progressive activist organizations in which participants discussed how to coordinate public defense of President Obama’s pending Iran deal has another ultimate target in mind.
Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, wants Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, arguing such a move will ensure Iran halts its illicit nuclear program and will help to create a Mideast nuclear-free zone.
On Monday, White House officials held a private strategy conference call with progressive organizations to discuss ways of convincing lawmakers to support a deal with Iran being brokered by the Obama administration.
The conference call organized by Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear weapons advocacy group, had about 100 participants.
Cirincione previously advised Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign on nuclear issues.
The Ploughshares president outlined in his 2008 book, “Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons,” that he favors Israel giving up its nuclear weapons to ensure Iran doesn’t obtain nukes.
He presented his position in a March 2005 opinion article for The Globalist, “Iran and Israel’s Nuclear Weapons.”
In the piece, Cirincione stated, “Now is the time to put U.S. muscle behind long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a nuclear-free Middle East region” with specific focus on Israel’s nuclear weapons.
He called for an “even-handed policy that views all nonconventional weapons in the Middle East as threats to regional peace and stability.”
“Everyone already knows about Israel’s bombs in the closet,” Cirincione wrote. “Bringing them out into the open and putting them on the table as part of a regional deal may be the only way to prevent others from building their own bombs in their basements.”
For Cirincione, targeting Israel’s nuclear program is a long-term policy aim.
“It will not be easy and will likely take years to fashion such an agreement. That is why there is no time to lose.”
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, yet, as a policy, the government does not acknowledge it.
Israel is said to have launched its nuclear program as early as the late 1940s and early 1950s.
In March, at about the same time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress, the Obama administration approved a Freedom of Information Act request that resulted in the release of an extensive Pentagon report discussing Israel’s nuclear weapon capabilities.
‘An issue of the presidency’
On Monday, the Washington Free Beacon reported it obtained an audio recording of the conference call that day arranged by the Ploughshares Fund. In the call, White House officials described Obama’s Iran negotiations as the president’s “signature foreign policy accomplishment,” a policy that must in turn be supported by Democrats.
“This has really been on the front burner from a foreign perspective, although not in the public eye necessarily, since the very beginning,” Matt Nosanchuk, an official in the White House Office of Public Engagement, told participants, according to the audio description. “This is not an issue of the day, this is really an issue of the presidency.”
Another official with the White House’s Public Engagement office, John Bisognano, stressed “the importance of this to the president.”
“This is clearly an issue that is very close to his heart and something that’s extraordinarily important for the future of frankly the world,” Bisognano said. “I want to make sure everyone understands this is a top priority for the administration, and this is clearly something that we’re all focused on moving forward and excited about hoping that we can come to a solid agreement.”
A key participant in the call was Robert Creamer, a member of the progressive Democracy Partners group and the general consultant to United for Change, which was formed to support Obama’s governing agenda.
“We have to take to our memberships all over the country,” Creamer told participants in the call. “We all have to step up. The other side will go crazy with intensity.”
Creamer urged progressive activists to target Democrats by “blitzing the hell out of the Hill.”
“What will be ultimately decisive is the level of intensity that members of Congress feel, particularly Democrats,” said Creamer. “Democrats are actually the key people here because if we can have enough votes to prevent a presidential veto override [of the deal], then we win.
“That means tons of phone calls, lots of lobbying contacts, not just a couple of good conversations, I mean just blitzing the hell out of the Hill,” Creamer said, predicting “a big, big battle” over the deal. “This is going to be a real war for the next week.”
Creamer reportedly also provided participants with input from his wife, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.
“Let me just also note, my wife, Congresswoman Schakowsky, just yelled across the room to me to make clear to everybody that we have to be clear that this is a good deal because it prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” Creamer said. “The other side will go crazy. We have to be really clear that it’s a good deal.”
As KleinOnline reported, the Ploughshares Fund opposes America’s development of a missile-defense system and contributes to scores of anti-war groups highly critical of U.S. foreign policy and military expansion.
The Ploughshares Fund has a long history of anti-war advocacy and is a partner of the Marxist-oriented Institute for Policy Studies. The institute has urged the defunding of the Pentagon and massive decreases in U.S. defense capabilities, including slashing the American nuclear arsenal to 292 deployed weapons, KleinOnline also previously reported.