According to many sources, including Reuters, Israel is not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Why hasn't Israel been pressured and sanctioned in a similar manner to Iran when it actually does have nukes - but all of the pressure is on Iran that according to IAEA and other sources doesn't even have nuclear WMD.

  • 10
    I think it's also worth noting that the Reuters article you linked clearly states that the NPT members have attempted to make Israel join the treaty on at least one occasion (Wikipedia suggests it's happened on multiple other occasions). So your claim that "there is no pressure on Israel to join the NPT" is blatantly contradicted by your own sources.
    – F1Krazy
    Sep 17, 2021 at 12:12
  • 2
    @F1Krazy I don't believe that, the west put a lot of pressure on the Iranians to reconcile them to sign the JCPOA, there's never been a strong will behind making Israel to join NTP that if was, as well as what they did with Iran (sanctions and others) to make them accept the JCPOA could happen about Israel too, these claims more seem to be a "shame fight" not a real one. I'm not backing Iran, I'm just talking about the double standared policies.
    – user39855
    Sep 17, 2021 at 14:57
  • 2
    The question is not really answerable without considering intent: what Israel is likely to do with the nuclear weapons that it (supposedly) has, versus what the Iranians would be likely to do with nuclear weapons if they had them. And once you bring that in, the answer is IMHO obvious.
    – jamesqf
    Sep 17, 2021 at 16:26
  • 2
    Because Israel is not in compliance, and nuclear powers, for the most part, get a fair amount of leeway when it comes to ignoring the desires of the international community (when a genuine agreement even exists). The one exception, and it's worth reading about for anyone who doesn't remember it live, was South Africa.
    – Pete W
    Sep 18, 2021 at 3:33
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because this is a push question. It is evident from history that all non-NPT states like Israel, Pakistan and India have been pressurized by "the world" to become NPT-compliant.
    – whoisit
    Nov 9, 2023 at 22:27

2 Answers 2


In theory, membership of the NPT is voluntary. Members gain the benefit of civilian nuclear technology exchanges up to a point just short of nuclear weapons capability in exchange for openness and the pledge not to cross that point. (People who pressure Iran want more than just ordinary NPT membership from them ...)

In practice, failing to do what other countries want leads to consequences. The severity of those consequences depends on the strength of the involved countries.

  • There are countries putting pressure on Israel. They are not strong enough to make Israel give in.
  • There are countries putting pressure on Iran. They are not strong enough to make Iran give in.

There is a tendency in Washington and in parts of the US press to equate "America," "the West," and "the international community." They're not the same. The US and their allies are just one very powerful block -- countries put to the question of either not trading with Iran or not trading with the US tend to value trade with the US more, and stop trading with Iran.

That's not primarily based on the NPT and similar principles. It is based on the fact that the US can decide not to trade with countries it dislikes, and decide whom it dislikes. No different, really, than the two blocks during the Cold War, except that the relative strengths are less balanced.

  • "There are countries putting pressure on Israel ... Iran." Can you cite sources? Sep 18, 2021 at 18:25
  • @KeithMcClary Sanctions (on Iran obuoisly) mean pressure. home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/…, I still believe no pressure is on Israel. The US sets sanctions on Iran the Europe abides.
    – user39855
    Sep 19, 2021 at 1:56
  • @user48, how about all those Arab mations which do not recognize Israel? Surely that is pressure.
    – o.m.
    Sep 19, 2021 at 8:41
  • 1
    @user48, you are debating the wrong question at the wrong time. There are nations pressuring Israel. Which is all that I said in my first bullet point. I did not say if they are right or wrong, whatever I might personally think.
    – o.m.
    Sep 19, 2021 at 10:12
  • 2
    @user48 just for the sake of history, before the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran (then still Persia) had full diplomatic relations with Israel, and significate trade ties. Sep 22, 2021 at 13:21

As the answer by @o.m. correctly points out, membership in the NPT is voluntary, and forcing any country to join it would constitute a breach of its sovereignty. Of course, de facto weaker countries are forced to do things by more powerful ones all the time, but this is usually couched in more diplomatic language.

Note also that Israel is not the only country outside the NPT - India and Pakistan are in a similar situation, while both possess nuclear weapons. It seems that NPT does not have a provision for bringing in a country possessing nuclear weapons - its nuclear members are restricted to the five countries that possessed the weapons in 1968, while everyone else is allowed to join as a non-nuclear member. Asking a nuclear-armed country to disarm is a non-starter.

Therefor, the usual practice in such cases is to introduce some additional agreements, engage the countries in question in peaceful nuclear cooperation (like India-United States Civil nuclear agreement), and demand public commitments to safe behavior. Specifically where Israel is concerned:

  • Israel is a member of International Atomic Energy Agency
  • Israel adheres to the policy of nuclear ambiguity - it has never confirmed to possess nuclear weapons, although it is widely believed that it has them.
  • The standard formula used by Israeli politicians is that Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. - which might mean that Israel either doesn't have such weapons or will not use them first.
  • Israel supports establishment of a Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction. (see Israel and weapons of mass destruction)

The OP says:

Why hasn't Israel been pressured and sanctioned in a similar manner to Iran when it actually does have nukes - but all of the pressure is on Iran that according to IAEA and other sources doesn't even have nuclear WMD.

It is not quite clear what the OP refers to here - Iran has been a member of the NPT since 1970 (from before the Islamic Revolution), and used this membership to obtain help in developing peaceful nuclear energy (notably from Russia). In other words, since 1970 Iran has committed itself to using nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes, and this policy was upheld after the Iranian revolution.

Iran is currently in violation of the NPT, due to breaking the NPT safety benchmarks (like the level of Uranium enrichment and development of nuclear capable rockets), as well as because of its refusal to allow verification of its compliance with the NPT rules (refusing access to IAEA inspectors) - hence the pressure. On the other hand, Israel had never joined and therefore never violated the NPT.

You must log in to answer this question.