Via: Morning Star online.
Israel has refused to join the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty in a snub to the international community’s efforts to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons.
In a speech delivered at the NPT review conference at UN headquarters in New York, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit called on Tel Aviv to finally officially declare its arsenal and then join the NPT, which would oblige it to throw its nuclear facilities open to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) oversight.
Israel, which is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, is believed to have some 200 atomic bombs.
The 118-member Non Aligned Movement, which Egypt currently chairs, has repeatedly called on Tel Aviv to join the NPT.
Mr Abul-Gheit said that the need for a nuke-free zone in the Middle East has “doubled” as Britain, Russia and the United States have failed to deliver on their 1995 pledge to set it up.
Russian arms negotiator Anatoly Antonov, speaking on behalf of the five NPT nuclear powers – the US, Russia, Britain, France and China – said these states were “committed to full implementation” of a Middle East nuclear-free zone.
In response, an anonymous Israeli government official said on Thursday that it would not sign the NPT.
Now Arab states are leading a drive at the month-long conference to pressure Tel Aviv to come clean on its nukes.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has sent a letter soliciting proposals from the agency’s 151 member states on how to implement a resolution demanding that Israel “accede” to the treaty.
Mr Amano posted his April 7 letter seven months after IAEA member states passed a resolution at their annual Vienna conference directly criticising Israel and its atomic programme, with 49 of the 110 states present in support, 45 against and 16 abstaining.
The result was a setback not only for Israel but also for Washington, which had lobbied for 18 years of past practice – debate on the issue without a vote.
The resolution “expresses concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities” and links it to “concern about the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons for the security and stability of the Middle East.”
Meanwhile, Israeli occupation troops have attacked Palestinians and international solidarity activists as they rallied against Israel’s illegal separation wall in the village of Walajeh near Bethlehem, injuring three.
Three protesters were detained.