Israel, Arab Nations Differ on Mideast Nuclear-free Zone: U.N. Official

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 20, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

Ef­forts by the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency to help per­suade Is­rael and Ar­ab na­tions to agree on a path to­ward a Middle East free of nuc­le­ar arms and oth­er weapons of mass de­struc­tion have been un­suc­cess­ful thus far, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by agency head Yukiya Amano’s of­fice, Re­u­ters re­por­ted on Tues­day.

In­ter­changes have re­vealed that there still is a “fun­da­ment­al dif­fer­ence of views” between Ar­ab na­tions and Is­rael, but Amano will con­tin­ue try­ing to bridge the di­ver­ging per­spect­ives, ac­cord­ing to his team.

IAEA mem­ber na­tions last year tasked Amano with meet­ing with of­fi­cials from the re­gion to dis­cuss bring­ing all atom­ic pro­grams un­der agency safe­guards. Is­rael is thought to be the area’s sole nuc­le­ar-weapons na­tion, but it by policy does not con­firm or deny its ar­sen­al and is not a mem­ber of the Nuc­le­ar Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty.

In a doc­u­ment is­sued last week, ahead of the agency’s plen­ary meet­ing in mid-Septem­ber, Amano said he backed ex­plor­a­tion of “rel­ev­ant new ideas and ap­proaches.” However, no head­way was achieved on ap­ply­ing “com­pre­hens­ive agency safe­guards cov­er­ing all nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies in the re­gion,” the re­port said.

It re­mains un­clear when, if ever, a re­gion­al con­fer­ence will be held on ne­go­ti­at­ing a weapons-of-mass-de­struc­tion-free zone for the en­tire Middle East. Plans to hold the U.N.-backed for­um in late 2012 ul­ti­mately were aban­doned after Is­rael would not con­firm wheth­er it would par­ti­cip­ate.

Is­rael and the United States have sup­por­ted the idea of at­tend­ing such a con­fer­ence un­der cer­tain con­di­tions. At the same time, they have main­tained that a re­gion­al ban on nuc­le­ar weapons could not be achieved as long as Ir­an con­tin­ues its con­tro­ver­sial atom­ic de­vel­op­ment activ­it­ies and there is no broad­er Ar­ab-Is­raeli peace ar­range­ment.

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