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In a New York Times review published Wednesday, October 13, reviewer Ethan Bronner offered strong praise for “The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb,” the new book from Avner Cohen of the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.  Dr. Cohen is a senior research associate affiliated with the Center’s Washington, D.C. office.  Bronner described “The Worst-Kept Secret” as “thoughtful, measured and deep, and very much worthy of wide consideration.”

“The Worst-Kept Secret” (Columbia University Press) is a follow-up to Cohen’s widely praised 1999 book “Israel and the Bomb,” which detailed the development and implementation of Israel’s policy of “nuclear opacity” or purposeful ambiguity about its nuclear weapons capabilities. “The Worst-Kept Secret” delves further into Israel’s status as “the only nuclear-armed state that refuses to acknowledge its possession of the bomb” and the implications of that approach for both governmental policy and societal behavior in the Middle East’s only liberal democracy.

Along with a thorough appraisal of the policy’s strategic merits, Cohen critiques its undemocratic flaws, arguing that the policy has become obsolete and undermines both domestic democratic values and international nuclear norms. He points out also the irony that Iran appears to be imitating Israel’s intentionally enigmatic reactions to questions about its nuclear capabilities.  In a quote on the book jacket, Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes calls it a “brilliant, compelling, and definitive” study.

“Avner Cohen is one of the world’s foremost authorities on nuclear policy in the Middle East,” noted CNS Director Dr. William Potter.  “Although one may disagree with his arguments, one cannot ignore them. His association with CNS further broadens the scope and enriches the intellectual diversity of the nation’s largest research center dedicated to combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir