Yukiya Amano 311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
VIENNA — Israel's secretive nuclear activities may undergo unprecedented
scrutiny next month, with a key meeting of the International Atomic
Energy Agency tentatively set to focus on the topic for the first time,
according to documents shared with The Associated Press.
of the restricted provisional agenda of the IAEA's June 7 board meeting
lists "Israeli nuclear capabilities" as the eighth item — the first time
that that the agency's decision-making body is being asked to deal with
the issue in its 52 years of existence.
The agenda can still
undergo changes in the month before the start of the meeting and a
senior diplomat from a board member nation said Friday the item,
included on Arab request, could be struck if the US and other Israeli
allies mount strong opposition. He asked for anonymity for discussing a
Even if dropped from the final agenda,
however, its inclusion in the May 7 draft made available to The AP is
significant, reflecting the success of Islamic nations in giving
concerns about Israel's unacknowledged nuclear arsenal increased
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35-nation IAEA board is the agency's decision making body and can refer
proliferation concerns to the UN Security Council — as it did with Iran
in 2006 after Tehran resumed uranium enrichment, a potential pathway to
A decision to keep the item would be a slap in
the face not only for Israel but also for Washington and its Western
allies, which support the Jewish state and view Iran as the greatest
nuclear threat to the Middle East.
Iran — and more recently Syria
— have been the focus of past board meetings; Tehran for its refusal to
freeze enrichment and for stonewalling IAEA efforts to probe alleged
nuclear weapons experiments, and Damascus for blocking agency experts
from revisiting a site struck by Israeli jets on suspicion it was a
nearly finished plutonium producing reactor.
Iran and Syria are
regular agenda items at board meetings. Elevating Israel to that status
would detract from Western attempts to keep the heat on Tehran and
Damascus and split the board even further — developing nations at board
meetings are generally supportive of Iran and Syria and hostile to
That in turn could stifle recent resolve by the world's
five recognized nuclear-weapons powers — the U.S., Russia, Britain,
France and China — to take a more active role in reaching the goal of a
nuclear-free Middle East.Arab
IAEA members call for Inspection of Israel's nuclear facilities
April 23 letter sent to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano by the 18 Arab nation
members of the organization, urged him to enforce the conference
resolution calling on Israel to allow IAEA inspections of its nuclear
Israel has never said it has nuclear weapons but is
widely believed to possess them.
latest pressure is putting the Jewish state in an uncomfortable
position. It wants the international community to take stern action to
prevent Iran from getting atomic weapons but at the same time brushes
off calls to come clean about its own nuclear capabilities.
has proposed that a Nonproliferation Treaty conference now meeting at
UN headquarters in New York back a plan calling for the start of
negotiations next year on a Mideast free of nuclear arms.
has cautiously supported the idea while saying that implementing it must
wait for progress in the Middle East peace process. Israel also says a
comprehensive Middle East peace settlement must come first.
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