'End Israel's nuclear secrecy'

ByASSOCIATED PRESS
August 15, 2010 17:54

Arab League urges US and others to push for int'l inspections.




'End Israel's nuclear secrecy'

arab league 224 ap. (photo credit:)

VIENNA  — Ignoring a US warning, Arab nations urged Washington and other powers to end support of Israel's nuclear secrecy and to push Israel to allow international inspections of its program, diplomats told The Associated Press Sunday.

Islamic nations have long called for Israel to open its nuclear program. But the fact that the Arab League has directly approached Washington and other Israeli allies for support at the September meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency is significant, considering that US President Barack Obama last month warned against using that forum to single out Israel.

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Obama then suggested that such a move would likely kill hopes of breakthrough talks on a Mideast nuclear-free zone, as proposed by the UN's 189-nation Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty conference three months ago.


Over Israeli objections, the planned 2012 talks were backed by the US and other nuclear powers for the first time since Arab nations pushed for such a gathering 15 years ago.

The Arab appeal to pressure Israel to open its nuclear program to inspectors also threatens to deflect attention from Iran, which Washington and its allies now consider a grave nuclear proliferation threat, even though Teheran insists it is not developing nuclear weapons.

The Arab appeal is contained in an Aug 8 letter signed by Arab League chief Amr Moussa that was shared with The Associated Press. It asks for backing of a resolution that Arab nations will submit to the September assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An attached draft of the resolution expresses "concern" about Israel's nuclear program and urges it to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to open its atomic activities to outside inspection.

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed in a statement last month to "work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel" at the 150-nation International Atomic Energy Agency conference.

On the proposed Mideast nuclear-free zone talks, their statement warned that "any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening such a conference unlikely."

But the Arab letter says the notion of singling out Israel "is not the case."

"Singling out a state assumes that there are a number of states in the same position and only one state was singled out," the letter says. Referring to the Nonproliferation Treaty, it says: "The fact is that all the states in the region have acceded to the NPT except Israel."

Israel is commonly assumed to have nuclear weapons but refuses to discuss the issue.

Passions have grown since September when the International Atomic Energy Agency assembly overrode Western objections to pass a resolution directly criticizing Israel and its atomic program for the first time in 18 years.

The US and its allies consider Iran the region's greatest proliferation threat, fearing that Teheran is trying to achieve the capacity to make nuclear weapons despite its assertion that it is only building a civilian program to generate power.

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