While the media has been mostly obsessing over the recently leaked Colin Powell emails that discuss either Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, or Donald Trump, a just as important, from a geopolitical perspective, email was revealed by the DCLeaks website, in which the former Secretary of State admits that Israel as 200 nuclear weapons "all targeted" at Iran, so Iran can't use one even if "they finally make one." Powell's assessment of Iran's nuclear capacity comes two weeks after it was revealed that the Obama administration had granted Iran "Secret" nuclear deal exemptions, despite claiming otherwise.
More importantly, however, the email to Jeffrey Leeds, Powell's business associate and major Democratic donor, finally provided the admission that Israel had nuclear weapons, something the biggest US ally in the Middle East has carefully avoided confirming or denying for years, in a policy dubbed "nuclear ambiguity."
In the Leeds email dated March 3, 2015, Powell writes that "Iranians can’t use [a nuke] if they finally make one," in the context of the ongoing talks about Tehran’s nuclear program. "The boys in Tehran know Israel has 200, all targeted on Tehran, and we have thousands. As [Iranian President Mahmoudin Ahmedinejad said], ‘What would we do with one, polish it?’ I have spoken publicly about both [North Korea] and Iran. We’ll blow up the only thing they care about—regime survival. Where, how would they even test one?"
The email was sent shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just visited Washington amid deteriorating relations with the Obama administration, and had given a fiery speech before Congress denouncing the proposed deal under which Iran would consent to invasive inspections in exchange for lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions. The deal was finalized in July 2015, despite much ongoing criticism by both Republicans and Donald Trump who has threatened to undo the deal if elected president.
There is another reason why Powell's email is troubling: a 1976 amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act bans any US economic and military aid to countries that deliver, receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology without abiding by the NPT. Israel is one of the few countries that did not sign the NPT, along with self-admitted nuclear powers India and Pakistan.
When asked by RT for a comment, US State Department spokesman John Kirby declined to answer whether Israel should face the same treatment as Iran and North Korea – both of which have been sanctioned for alleged or actual violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The leak comes days after US officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding according to which a record $38 billion in military assistance would be provided to Israel over the next decade, with Israelis pledging to spend nearly all of it on US weapons and training.
it is unclear if Powell's email is the definitive answer of how many nukes Israel has: according to a 2014 report by the Federation of American Scientists, Israel is believed to possess anywhere between 80 and 400 nuclear weapons, with the lower figure considered more likely. Powell’s words carry considerable weight, since he chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War and later helped make the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state.