The article was based upon minutes of a meeting recently uncovered, which, depending upon how you interpreted the minutes, might have led to such an inference.
On the other hand, the minutes did not actually say such a thing, and as Carl at Israel Matzav notes, not even the BBC (no friend of Israel) bought the implications of The Guardian article. Peres has issued a complete denial, reprinted at Israel Matzav.
The Guardian had a political point to make with the article, which is that it would be no big deal for Iran to have nuclear weapons, since Israel is just as irresponsible as Iran:
They will also undermine Israel’s attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a “responsible” power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.
And this political point really is the point.
There is someone else who pursued this line of argument, Professor Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money blog.
I previously posted about Farley’s absurd accusation that Jersulem Post writer Caroline Glick was not interested in Israel’s survival, dismissive attitude towards rising Islamism in Turkey, and polemical attempt to deny that Israel is a strategic ally of the U.S.
Not surprisingly, Farley accepted The Guardian account with little critique. Farley gave lip service to there being no “smoking gun,” but otherwise accepted the argument that Israel did in fact offer to sell nukes, and hammered the same moral equivalency point as The Guardian (emphasis mine):
The larger issue is obviously this: Evidence that a chief proxy of the United States offered to sell actual, functioning nuclear warheads on actual, functioning ballistic missiles to an autocratic, unstable state somewhat undermines US “moral authority” to undertake anti-proliferation efforts in nuclear and ballistic missile technology. Iran is enriching uranium? Well, Israel offered to sell nukes to apartheid South Africa. North Korea is selling ballistic missile parts and know how? Well, Israel offered to sell Jericho missiles, complete with nuclear warheads, to South Africa. In short, a US proxy offered to engage in behavior that was by several degrees worse than any behavior that Pakistan, North Korea, Syria, Libya, or Iran have ever been credibly accused of engaging in.
This is the pathetic, but typical, moral equivalency argument put forth by left-wing academics who view Israel as the primary source of problems in the Middle East, and who obsess over the “Israel lobby” (which includes a substantial majority of Americans).
The argument runs something like this (hyperbole intended):
Israel (allegedly) offered to sell nukes, but did not do so, so Iran can obtain nukes to use against Israel and we have no right to complain about it. Indeed, we dropped a nuke on two Japanese cities, so we should completely abandon non-proliferation efforts because who are we to tell others not to obtain nukes. Actually, who are we to tell Iran not to drop a nuke on Tel Aviv, because we dropped one on Hiroshima. So bombs away, Mahmoud, now you can be just like us.
Inaction really is what the argument is about.
What Israel did or did not do 35 or so years ago has absolutely nothing to do with the current expansionist and despotic Iranian regime, which would drop a nuke on Israel if it could, and at a minimum, would use nuclear weapons to establish hegemony over the greater Persian Gulf region.
The moral equivalency game simply is the left’s way of tying Israel and the West down, while permitting a free hand for our enemies.
Update: CiF Watch has a series of posts debunking the documentation relied upon by The Guardian:
Guardian Columnist Calls Out The Anti-Israel Left, But Not His Own Paper
J Street: Liberal Bloggers Need To Study History, Not Memory
Israel Derangement Syndrome Strikes Again