U.S. Seeking Only Inspection Rights on Israel’s Desalination Plant

The United States Government has not asked for supervisory rights over all Israeli nuclear installations in exchange for financing a projected nuclear-powered desalination plant, Foreign Minister Abba Eban told a Parliamentary committee today. He told the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that the United States did ask for inspection rights on the nuclear core of the proposed plant.

Mr. Eban said that the request was a “natural one, ” since the nuclear plant will be built by Israel together with the United States, and will be operated jointly. His clarification followed a number of reports from Washington that the United States had decided to tie loans for the nuclear desalination plant to an Israeli agreement that all nuclear installations in Israel be fully open to international inspection.

Foreign Ministry sources here have consistently disclaimed knowledge of such a purported U.S. condition for aid to the project. The United States has sought for several years, through the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, to persuade Israel to allow inspection of its nuclear facilities, particularly the larger one at Dimona.

In a related development, Israeli sources said that the possibility of purchase of nuclear facilities for the desalination project from Britain was broached during a recent trip to London by Maj. Gen, Zvi Tsur, director-general of the Mekorot Water Company. It was reported that, while the British did not set any political conditions for such a transaction, the plan collapsed temporarily because of the financial terms proposed.

(Senator Robert F. Kennedy on a CBS-TV special program, “Town Meeting of the World, ” singled out Israel and Egypt last night, along with India and Pakistan as countries which must be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons. He said this was a most urgent problem facing the world, citing regional disputes and specifically mentioning the Middle East, Israel and Egypt.)

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