WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Obama administration official said Israel should sign on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gotemoeller told a meeting of the 189 signatories of the treaty that "universal adherence to the NPT itself, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea," remains "a fundamental objective of the United States," according to media reports.
That has been the U.S. position for decades and Gotemoeller declined to say whether the Obama administration would now press Israel to join the treaty. According to The Washington Times, a senior White House official said the administration considered the nuclear programs of Israel and Iran to be unrelated "apples and oranges."
Asked by newspaper whether the administration would press Israel to join the NPT, the White House official said, "We support universal adherence to the NPT. [It] remains a long-term goal."
Israel does not confirm or deny that it has nuclear weapons, but is widely thought to possess a substantial number of nuclear weapons.
The Washington Times reported that a push to get Israel to sign the NPT would jeopardize a 40-year-old secret agreement between the United States and the Jewish state to never acknowledge publicly Israel’s nuclear arsenal. The Times describes documents released in recent years that acknowledge an accord, forged at a summit between U.S. President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, although there is no explicit record of the accord.
But a memo from then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger to Nixon, according to the newspaper, notes the existence of Israeli missiles topped with nuclear warheads and then states that "what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact."