Obama slams NPT's Israel focus
Israel calls agreement “deeply flawed and hypocritical.”
US President Barack Obama Photo: associated press
Israel has denounced
an agreement on Friday by the 189 member nations of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty to move toward banning nuclear arms from the
Middle East, calling it “deeply flawed and hypocritical.”
President Barack Obama also criticized the singling out of Israel in the
“We strongly oppose efforts to single out
Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national
security,” he said.
NPT forum approves steps to disarm
Summit on nuke-free Mideast in 2012?
The NPT states agreed at the end of a
monthlong meeting in New York to call a conference in 2012 on the
establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. All states
in the region would be invited to the conference, which Arab countries –
led by Egypt – hope will pressure Israel to give up on its policy of
nuclear ambiguity and its undeclared arsenal.
The body urged
Israel to sign the NPT and to allow inspection of its nuclear sites.
also adopted a detailed plan of steps toward nuclear disarmament,
including a proposal to move toward banning atomic weapons from the
The Israeli government on Saturday denounced the NPT
resolution, saying it had targeted Israel rather than Iran.
statement, a government spokesman complained that Israel had been
singled out while “the terrorist regime in Iran, which is racing to
develop nuclear weapons and which openly threatens to wipe Israel off
the map, is not even mentioned.”
He said the resolution ignored
the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region
and the entire world, while focusing on Israel, the Middle East’s only
true democracy and the only country threatened with annihilation.
real problem with weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East does
not relate to Israel but to those countries that have signed the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and brazenly violated it – Iraq under
Saddam [Hussein], Libya, Syria and Iran,” the spokesman said. “That is
why the resolution adopted by the NPT Review Conference not only fails
to advance regional security but actually sets it back. As a
nonsignatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions
of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the
distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take
part in its implementation.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is
expected to discuss the resolution with Obama during his visit to
Washington on Tuesday.
Obama: Document 'includes balanced and
Obama on Saturday welcomed what he termed
the “balanced” nuclear nonproliferation accord reached a day earlier,
but at the same time criticized the singling out of Israel in the
Obama said the document “includes balanced and
practical steps that will advance nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament,
and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which are critical pillars of the
global nonproliferation regime.”
He said that although the US had
long supported a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, its view was
“that a comprehensive and durable peace in the region and full
compliance by all regional states with their arms control and
nonproliferation obligations are essential precursors for its
Although the US joined the 188 other member
nations of the NPT in giving a green light to a conference in 2012 “on
the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all
other weapons of mass destruction,” senior US officials appeared to
backtrack afterwards, setting several conditions for the talks to go
Taking the toughest line, National Security Adviser Gen.
James Jones said in a statement on Friday night that the US had “serious
reservations” about the 2012 conference and believed Mideast peace and
full compliance by all countries in the region with their arms control
and nonproliferation obligations were “essential precursors” of a
The compliance demand appeared to be aimed at
Jones also said the US “deplores” the singling out of
Israel, which he said put prospects for the 2012 conference “in doubt.”
As a co-sponsor of the conference, Jones said Washington would ensure
that it takes place only “if and when all countries feel confident that
they can attend.”
The Arab proposal for a WMD-free zone, aimed at
pressuring Israel to give up its undeclared arsenal, was endorsed by
the 1995 NPT conference but never acted upon.
At this month’s
NPT review, a conference to begin talks on a nuclear-free Mideast was
considered by many delegates as “the make-or-break issue,” and agreement
on the 2012 meeting was widely welcomed after the 28-page final
declaration was approved by consensus.
But the US reaction raised
questions about whether countries in the Middle East would attend a
nuclear conference in two years.
Several delegates suggested that
earlier comments by US Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher and
Obama’s coordinator for weapons of mass destruction, Gary Samore,
warning about the difficulties of holding a conference and persuading
Israel to attend, may have been sparked by Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to
the White House.
Egypt’s UN Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, speaking
for the 118-nation Nonaligned Movement, said that during the
negotiations there was “a little bit of disagreement” on mentioning
But he said NAM members thought that since the document
issued at the end of the 2000 NPT review conference mentioned the need
for Israel to join the treaty and subject its nuclear capabilities to
International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, there was “no going back
on that commitment” and Israel had to be mentioned in the 2010 document
A Mideast conference on nuclear issues would put Israel
and Iran at the same table. Abdelaziz told reporters the two countries
already sat down at the same table at a meeting in Cairo last December.
there is nothing that could prevent any two adversaries to sit at the
table and negotiate, and we hope that this is the spirit that everybody
is going to be doing,” he said.
Iran had loomed as a potential
spoiler that would block consensus at this conference, and Iran and
Syria dissented loudly on various points in the final hours, but no
objections were raised in the concluding session.
Facing new UN
sanctions because of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and enter
negotiations on its nuclear program, the Iranians had sought to turn
the spotlight instead on the big nuclear powers, demanding the final
document call for speedier disarmament moves.
delegate Ali Asghar Soltanieh lamented that the deadline of 2025 sought
by NAM for complete disarmament was not included in the final document.
Nonetheless, Soltanieh called “the limited measures” in the agreement “a
While Israel was named, the final document did
not single Iran out as a member nation found to be in noncompliance with
UN nuclear safeguards agreements.
Jones, the US
security adviser, said the failure of the resolution to mention Iran,
“which poses the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the region
and to the integrity of the NPT, is also deplorable.”
to the final document, UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and
the co-sponsors of the 1995 Mideast resolution – the US, Russia and
Britain – will now appoint a “facilitator” to conduct consultations in
preparation for the 2012 conference.
Jones said the United States “will insist that the conference operate
only by consensus by the regional countries” and that any further
discussions or actions also be decided on this basis.
Britain’s chief negotiator, Ambassador John Duncan, said Friday’s
decision was the start of a process and dialogue on a WMD-free zone in
the Middle East.
“So it would be surprising if Israel was able to agree today to come to
the proposed conference before that dialogue has taken place,” he said.
“But the clear goal of this decision is to have all the countries of
the region involved.”
Under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, nations without nuclear
weapons committed not to acquire them; those with them committed to
move toward their elimination; and all endorsed everyone’s right to
develop peaceful nuclear energy.
The last NPT conference, in 2005, failed to adopt a consensus
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